President Biden’s appointed NLRB General Counsel is quickly making several changes to established laws and procedures. The NLRB GC is responsible for setting the agenda of the Board and highlighting how she would like Board Members to rule on certain cases if is the opportunity to do so arises.
Just weeks into her new role as General Counsel, Jennifer Abruzzo outlined more than 50 laws she wants changed. Board Members are already considering some of those changes:
- Bargaining Unit Size: Whether to lower the bar for workers to form several small bargaining units within a single workforce.
- Confidential Arbitration: Whether to continue permitting the confidentiality of arbitration settlement agreements.
- Severance Agreements: Whether employers may continue including confidentiality requirements and waivers of right to sue in severance agreements.
- Handbook Policies: Whether the test to determine if handbook policies like social media, disclosing proprietary information, posting photos of co-workers, disparaging the company, etc. violate the National Labor Relations Act.
- Independent Contractors: Whether to make it more difficult to be an independent contractor because independent contractors are not able to form or join a workplace union.
- Joint Employer: Whether to make it easier to find joint employer status among unrelated companies and thus make each company liable for labor law violations of the other company and to hold each company responsible to bargain with the union of the other company.
General Counsel Abruzzo also seeks to include unlimited monetary damages and damages for emotional distress originating from unfair labor practices. The Board currently only has authority to award a “make whole” remedy which is usually a calculated amount of back or front pay.
This is just the beginning.