Reminder: Employees Can Discuss Salary and the Terms and Conditions of Employment With Each Other.
January 13, 2019
Even lawyers can get it wrong. The National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) recently reached a settlement agreement with the law firm Goldberg Segalla regarding allegations that the law firm forced employees to sign a “confidentiality agreement” that made discussing the terms and conditions of employment a terminable offense (Case No. 02-CA-220607).
The NLRB, though, barred the confidentiality agreements and, pursuant to a settlement, required Goldberg Segalla to post a disclaimer that essentially nullified those agreements. The notice itself reminds employees of their rights under federal labor law, including the right to “[a]ct together with other employees for your benefit and protection.” Goldberg Segalla then pledged that it will “rescind the Confidentiality Agreement or revise it” to ensure that it does not prohibit employees from discussion the terms and conditions of their employment with nonemployees or among themselves. The settlement agreement itself has not been released, but more information on the case can be found on the NLRB’s website and here.
Critically important for employers to remember is that employees who are not represented by a union also have rights protected by the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”). The NLRA protects the rights of employees to participate in “concerted activity.” What is concerted activity? Concerted activity is when “two or more employees take action for their mutual aid or protection regarding terms and conditions of employment.” Naturally, this encompasses employees discussing pay and other terms of their employment but could also include talking about other work-related issues (safety, for example) or bringing the complaints of other workers to the attention of the employer. You can find more information on employee rights here: https://www.nlrb.gov/rights-we-protect/rights/employee-rights.