Hospital Flunks Labor Law 101, Changes Dress Code Without Bargaining

Wanting to improve the professional image of its employees, a hospital decided to revamp its dress code policy. Included in the revisions was a color-coded uniform system designed to help staff, patients, and visitors more easily identify and distinguish employees. The hospital did not inform the union about these changes.

An unlawful change, the NLRB explained, is one that is “material, substantial, and significant” to employees’ terms and conditions of employment. The new color-coded uniform requirements “rendered useless most, if not all, of their personal scrub inventories containing other colors and styles.” The Board found the hospital must have recognized this adverse financial impact because it provided three free sets of scrubs to reduce the initial monetary cost to employees of complying with the new policy. The dress code also banned outerwear such as hoodies, sweatshirts, and fleece jackets if they did not match the new color-coded uniforms, further increasing the financial burden on employees.

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