Is Your Employee Handbook Compliant With the Recent NLRB General Counsel Memorandum?

On March 18, 2015, the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) issued Memorandum GC 15-04, offering guidance for drafting employee handbook rules so they won’t be deemed unlawful by the NLRB.

This Memorandum is relevant to nearly all private employers – especially to unrepresented (non-union) employees who comprise a large majority of the nation’s workforce – because the NLRB is aggressively policing employee handbooks and other employer policies which it believes has a “chilling effect” on employee rights under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”). In fact, the mere maintenance of a work rule – even in the absence of enforcement – may violate the NLRA.


The Memorandum is divided into two parts. The first section compares policies found to be unlawful with policies found to be lawful and attempts to explain the reasoning. This analysis includes confidentiality rules; professionalism rules; anti-harassment rules; rules regarding the use of company logos, trademarks or copyrights; and media contact rules.

The second part discusses a recent settlement with Wendy’s International LLC regarding its employee handbook policies, setting forth rules initially found to be unlawful along with Wendy’s modified rules determined to be lawful by the NLRB.

What this means to employers is that many seemingly harmless, reasonable employee handbook policies and provisions may be unlawful because they could be interpreted to have a “chilling effect” on employees’ rights – including non-union employees – to engage in protected concerted activity under the NLRA.

If you have not had your employee handbook reviewed recently – or revised to comply with Memorandum GC 15-04 – please call CBS and allow us to review your employee handbook policies and procedures to ensure compliance with the NLRA as well as all applicable federal and state laws.

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City of Topeka Water Treatment

Sylvia Davis
WPC General Manager
City of Topeka

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