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Employment Law & Litigation

NLRB Rules Against Employment-At-Will Policies

NLRB Cracks Down on Employee Handbooks

Last year, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled against the American Red Cross and Hyatt Hotels Corp. with respect to the employment-at-will provisions contained within their employee handbooks.  The provision in the American Red Cross’s employment handbook provided that the at-will employment relationship could not be amended, modified, or altered in any way.  Hyatt’s provision required a writing signed by the employee and either the Executive Vice-President, the Chief Operating Officer, or the President to change the at-will employment relationship.  In both cases, the NLRB found that these provisions could reasonably be construed by employees as restricting their right to engage in collective bargaining to change their at-will employment status through protected activity. 

Employment at Will Provisions in Employee Policies & Procedures Books

Given these rulings, companies should revisit their Employee Handbooks and potentially revise any employment-at-will provisions that state the at-will employment relationship cannot be altered or that require specific processes for changing the employment relationship.  Companies may also want to consider adding additional language in conjunction with any employment-at-will provisions that reinforces and recognizes employees’ statutory rights under the National Labor Relations Act section 7, including the right to collective bargaining.

Allen & Gooch is providing this legal update for informational purposes only. This article should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion as to any specific facts or circumstances. You should consult your own attorney concerning your particular situation and any specific legal questions you may have.