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DTCI: Beware of overly broad media policies

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gesslingBy Joshua B. Gessling

The National Labor Relations Board continues to be very active in evaluating employee handbook provisions that may affect the rights of union and nonunion employees to engage in protected, concerted activity under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act.

A three-member panel recently issued its decision in DirecTV U.S. DirecTV Holdings LLC and struck down several of the company’s employee handbook provisions. The NLRB declared the employer’s media policy, which prohibited employees from contacting the media, to be overly broad and unlawful because it could be reasonably construed by employees to limit the Section 7 right to discuss labor disputes with media. Consistent with several other recent decisions, the NLRB found that the employer’s policy made no attempt to distinguish between protected and unprotected activity. Furthermore, the employer’s policy required that employees obtain authorization from the employer before making comments regarding the employer to media. The board found this requirement to be unlawful, holding that the employer may not require an employee to obtain permission to engage in protected, concerted off-duty activity.

The NLRB also struck down the employer’s handbook provision on the employer’s confidentiality rules, which prohibited employees from discussing details about the job, company business or projects with anyone outside the company. The board found this provision to be unlawful because employees could reasonably understand the rule to prohibit employees from discussing wages and other terms and conditions of employment. The board also believed the employer’s rule could be reasonably understood to prevent employees from communicating with union representatives, NLRB agents or other governmental agencies regarding workplace issues, which provided an additional basis for its determination.

Employers should evaluate internal policies and employee handbooks to ensure that all company rules are consistent with legal developments. For additional information on how DirecTV U.S. DirecTV Holdings LLC affects your media, confidentiality and other employee handbook provisions, contact this author or a member of the Labor and Employment Group at Kahn Dees Donovan & Kahn LLP.•

Mr. Gessling is an associate in the Evansville office of Kahn Dees Donovan & Kahn LLP. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

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  1. From his recent appearance on WRTV to this story here, Frank is everywhere. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, although he should stop using Eric Schnauffer for his 7th Circuit briefs. They're not THAT hard.

  2. They learn our language prior to coming here. My grandparents who came over on the boat, had to learn English and become familiarize with Americas customs and culture. They are in our land now, speak ENGLISH!!

  3. @ Rebecca D Fell, I am very sorry for your loss. I think it gives the family solace and a bit of closure to go to a road side memorial. Those that oppose them probably did not experience the loss of a child or a loved one.

  4. If it were your child that died maybe you'd be more understanding. Most of us don't have graves to visit. My son was killed on a state road and I will be putting up a memorial where he died. It gives us a sense of peace to be at the location he took his last breath. Some people should be more understanding of that.

  5. Can we please take notice of the connection between the declining state of families across the United States and the RISE OF CPS INVOLVEMENT??? They call themselves "advocates" for "children's rights", however, statistics show those children whom are taken from, even NEGLIGENT homes are LESS likely to become successful, independent adults!!! Not to mention the undeniable lack of respect and lack of responsibility of the children being raised today vs the way we were raised 20 years ago, when families still existed. I was born in 1981 and I didn't even ever hear the term "CPS", in fact, I didn't even know they existed until about ten years ago... Now our children have disagreements between friends and they actually THREATEN EACH OTHER WITH, "I'll call CPS" or "I'll have [my parent] (usually singular) call CPS"!!!! And the truth is, no parent is perfect and we all have flaws and make mistakes, but it is RIGHTFULLY OURS - BY THE CONSTITUTION OF THIS GREAT NATION - to be imperfect. Let's take a good look at what kind of parenting those that are stealing our children are doing, what kind of adults are they producing? WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS TO THE CHILDREN THAT HAVE BEEN RIPPED FROM THEIR FAMILY AND THAT CHILD'S SUCCESS - or otherwise - AS AN ADULT.....

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