Thursday, February 23, 2012

NLRB refuses to expand representation rights to non-union employees during investigatory interviews

The NLRB’s Acting General Counsel continues to try to chip away at the rights of non-unionized employers. His latest involves an attempt to expand Weingarten rights to non-unionized employees. What are Weingarten rights, you ask? They are the rights of employees to have union representation during an employer’s investigatory interview. In 2000, the Clinton-era NLRB expanded these rights to employees at non-unionized workplaces. Unsurprisingly, non-union employers lost their collective minds. Less than four years later, however, George Bush’s NLRB restored sanity by reversing that ruling and again limiting Weingarten rights to union shops only. It was only a matter of time before someone tried to swing the Weingarten pendulum again. This time, however, the NLRB didn’t take the bait.

In Praxair Distribution, Inc. (2/21/12) [pdf], the NLRB’s Acting General Counsel argued that the employer denied a non-union employee his Weingarten rights when it refused to allow him to make a phone call in connection with an investigatory interview. The NLRB clearly and unequivocally refused to expand the protections of Weingarten to non-union employees:

Under existing case law, Weingarten rights do not apply to unrepresented workers such as the employees of the Praxair operation involved here.

Now, if we can only get the Board to rein in its Acting General Counsel on the scope of appropriate workplace social media policies, we’ll really have something to celebrate.