No Solicitation / No Distribution Policies are enacted by companies to stop union organizers from soliciting employees to join or form a union – or distribute similar messages – during working time and in working areas. These policies must prohibit all types of solicitation and distribution, though, not just union organizing. The famous example of “if you allow moms to sell their daughter’s Girl Scout cookies at work, then you have to allow employees to sell the benefits of unionization at work, too” applies to this blog post.
Companies like to start enforcing No Solicitation / No Distribution Policies when faced with union organizing for the first time. Timing is key. Strict enforcement of an existing rule or the creation of a new rule during a union organizing campaign is an unfair labor practice. No Solicitation / No Distribution Policies applied only to stop union organizing is discriminatory and unlawful. For example, a company may not enforce a rule prohibiting non-work related use of the copy machine against an employee who copied pro-union literature after a history of tolerating personal use of the copy machine.
Companies with valid No Solicitation / No Distribution Policies should include the definition of “solicitation” and “distribution” in the policy. The National Labor Relations Board has found that mentioning an upcoming union meeting did not constitute solicitation, rather employees were “simply engaging in talk about the union.” Vague No Solicitation / No Distribution Policies make my job – to help companies overcome unfair labor practice charges – much more difficult. So please, for my sake, include examples in your policies.
Matt Austin is a Columbus, Ohio lawyer who owns Austin Legal, LLC, a boutique law firm with offices in central and northeast Ohio that limits its representation to employers dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. Austin Legal’s Concierge Legal Services program is relied upon by companies to remain compliant and competitive. If you have employees, you need Concierge Legal Services. You can call Matt at (614) 285-5342 or email him at Austin@LaborEmploymentOSHA.com.