Without such disclaimers, employers can be subject to a breach of contract claim
Remember earlier this year when the NLRB was hinting that certain at-will disclaimers (you know, the type of language in offer letters that says that the employee is at-will and can be fired for any reason or no reason at all) might be illegal under a new reading of applicable labor law?
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At yesterday’s labor & employment law seminar, we had both Heidi Lane, a Prinicipal Attorney with the Connecticut Department of Labor, and Jonathan Kreisberg, Regional Director of the NLRB’s Hartford Office, speak to attendees about the latest developments under both Connecticut and federal law.
But for those who couldn’t make it, here…
On Monday, the Connecticut Bar Association held its annual meeting. Lots of labor and employment law topics were covered, some of which I missed. I’ve asked one of my bar colleagues, Rita Trivedi — who will be a Teaching Program Fellow at Columbia Law School in the fall — to share her insights on the events. My thanks to Rita for the contribution.
First up: A recap of NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon’s address to the meeting.
It’s been a busy year at the National Labor Relations Board, and Acting General Counsel (ACG) Lafe Solomon’s address at the Connecticut Bar Association’s Annual Meeting gave practitioners much to think about.
Among the highlights:
- The next possible “big thing” for employers to think about are at-will disclaimers. Solomon observed that a blanket at-will statement might (emphasis on might) violate the NLRA. Thus, employers should now take particular care when drafting at-will clauses in employee handbooks.
In general, many employer handbooks have clauses that provide that the employee is and will remain at-will, unless that status is changed by the company’s top executive (either in writing or otherwise). Intended to prevent a change based on the casual statements of a manager or co-worker, at-will clauses have become a bastion of employment policy.
Yet, according to Solomon, if an employee could reasonably believe that this kind of clause means that even union representation and a collective bargaining agreement cannot alter his or her at-will status, the employee might conclude that organization is futile – in which case the employer’s provision might violate the NLRA.
What then should management attorneys and their clients do to address what Solomon recognized as a valid concern?
Through a passionate discussion on all sides at the meeting, the takeaway seems murky, and few concrete examples or models came to light. Savings clauses to the effect that nothing in the policy infringes on rights under the NLRA will likely be insufficient to prevent exposure.
Continue Reading Guest Post: NLRB Acting General Counsel Addresses At-Will Disclaimers and More at CBA Annual Meeting