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"At-Will" Employment Acknowledgments Under Attack by NLRB

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has recently been attacking employee handbooks and other written employer policies and documents which contain an acknowledgement that non-union employees are employed on an “at-will” basis. The claims appear to be that such an acknowledgement is an illegal interference with the employee’s NLRA Section 7 right “to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection, and shall also have the right to refrain from any or all such activities except to the extent that such right may be affected by an agreement requiring membership in a labor organization as a condition of employment”.

These acknowledgements are quite common in workplaces, and are usually intended to be an acknowledgement that the handbook, or other writing, is not an employment contract affecting the employee’s status as an at-will employee. The NLRB appears to be making a strained interpretation of these acknowledgements to be an illegal “non-collective bargaining” condition to employment, rather than an acknowledgement that the writing is not an employment contract.

This is a development that Penzien & McBride, PLLC will continue to follow and will communicate with our business clients what, if anything, should be done with employee handbooks, etc. which contain these (important) acknowledgments.

Additional reading on this topic:

Recent Complaint against Hyatt

Article from The Labor and Employment Law Update