Latest Handbook Provisions to be Invalidated by the NLRB

Union and Non-Union employers – consider this your monthly reminder to have competent labor counsel review your handbooks for compliance with the NLRB’s recent rulings about common provisions that violate the National Labor Relations Act. And for the companies that believe that the NLRB will be reined in under President Trump, well, Trump’s nominations have not yet been confirmed and even then it will take years before we see a shift in labor law back to its traditional meaning.

Real Estate firm Newmark Grubb Knight Frank’s employee handbook violated a lot of the NLRB’s newfangled definitions of labor law. Some of the violations, which were lawful for decades but now unlawful, include:

  • Getting corporate permission before posting anything about the company on social media
  • Requiring employees to “avoid activities…inconsistent with the best interests of the company and our clients.”
  • No video, audio, or images of the workplace without company permission
  • The company’s conflict of interest policy was unlawful since (as of 2015) employees could perceive union activity as conflicting with their employer’s interest
  • Preventing clothing with printed slogans / promotions
  • Prohibition on distributing written material at work
  • Not allowing employees to use certain company technology for personal use

In all, 17 policies were invalidated. While that number is staggering, it is also common for employers who have not updated their handbooks for compliance with the “new labor laws.”

Worth noting, the Company argued that the ULP was invalid because it was filed by a supervisor. Unfortunately for companies, the Judge ruled that anyone, and he meant anyone could file charges under the National Labor Relations Act.

Matt Austin owns Austin Legal, LLC, a boutique law firm based in Ohio that limits its representation to employers dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. You can call Matt at (614) 285-5342 or email him at