Reasonable Construction No Longer the Standard for Workplace Rules
In a ruling emblematic of a changing of the guard, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) formulated a new standard for weighing the legality of employee handbook policies. The Board will now take into account the nature and extent of a challenged rule’s potential impact on NLRA rights along with the legitimate justifications associated with the rule. The decision creates a framework of three categories into which the NLRB will classify rules: lawful, unlawful, or subject to individual scrutiny on a case-by-case basis. The ruling casts off the standard of reasonableness under which a policy was illegal if employees could “reasonably construe” it as barring them from exercising their rights to join forces under the National Labor Relations Act. The previous standard gave rise to rules blocking workers from criticizing their employers on social media or recording in the workplace.