Many companies encourage employee feedback. Some have a “suggestion box”. Some have an employee “hotline”. Others have open door policies that encourage employees to express themselves.
T-Mobile had an Employee Feedback Group called T-Voice that listened to the concerns of their customer service representative co-workers. Sometimes T-Voice made suggestions to management about the feedback it received.
Employee feedback groups can be unlawful if they act as a quasi, in-house union. the Communication Workers of America filed an unfair labor practice charge alleging T-Voice was an unlawful.
The Trump NLRB ruled that T-Voice was lawful because it did not have a pattern or practice of making suggestions to management. That decision was appealed.
The appellate court remanded the case back to the now Biden NLRB.
The Biden NLRB vacated the ruling by the Trump NLRB. The Biden NLRB held that T-Voice qualified as an unlawful company-run labor organization.
Same facts. Different NLRB. Different outcome. T-Voice was lawful 3 years ago. T-Voice is now unlawful.
It is hard to keep up with what is lawful and unlawful when the laws keep changing. But that’s life at the NLRB.
Courts generally follow precedent. But, the NLRB flip flops depending on which political party is in the White House.
Do you have an employee feedback group? A hotline? A suggestion box? Make sure it doesn’t violate the current state of the law.
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Matt Austin is a nationwide management labor lawyer. Labor laws govern virtually all private-sector employees regardless of union membership. Proactive management of labor relations is critical to maintaining flexibility and increasing profit.
Matt also runs Austin Legal’s HR Legal Compliance Program that, for a small monthly fee, ensures HR decisions are protected by the attorney-client privilege.
Matt’s experience is deeply rooted in helping manage many aspects of his clients’ businesses. To effectively manage labor relations, he must also manage budgets, forecasts, new growth areas, and projected market corrections. High emotional intelligence is also critical to negotiating union contracts and to properly advise HR Legal Compliance members through the nuances of the law, its application to their companies, and how it will be received by employees.
You can reach Matt via email at Matt@MattAustinLaborLaw.com.