Not Negotiating with the Union About Changes to the Dress Code Violated Labor Law

Put this one in the “Duh” category.

The National Labor Relations Board found that the Memorial Hospital of Salem County in Salem, New Jersey violated the National Labor Relations Act when it refused to bargain with the Health Professionals and Allied Employees union over changes in the dress code and did not give the union relevant information the union requested.

The hospital changed dress codes to exclude hooded sweatshirts and fleece jackets, which were previously allowed to be worn during working times. According to the NLRB, this “resulted in discomfort from the cold to at least one employee due to her inability to wear sweatshirts or hoodies over her scrubs.

A change in the dress code is a change to the terms and conditions of employment and must be negotiated with the union. In other words, changes to a dress code is a mandatory subject of bargaining. Because the company changed the dress code without negotiating with the union, the company violated labor laws.

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. You can call Matt at (614) 285-5342 or email him at