NLRB Scrutinizes Employment At-Will Disclaimers

You may have heard about a decision saying that an employer’s at-will disclaimer in an employee handbook violated the National Labor Relations Act by infringing upon employees’ Section 7 right to engage in protected, concerted activity. As employment at-will disclaimers have been a commonly recommended part of employee handbooks and other documents to employees, you may be wondering what this decision means for you. 

The decision, American Red Cross Arizona Blood Services Region, was made by an administrative law judge on February 1, 2012. The case was subsequently settled and not appealed. It received little attention until National Labor Relations Board Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon cited the decision in support of the position that at-will disclaimers prohibiting changes in terms and conditions of employment except in a written document signed by the employer and employee violate the NLRA. Since then, this position has been much criticized.  

Labor relations attorney Dennis Baarlaer calls this development disconcerting, but says that MSEC will monitor the developing case law and clarify employer responsibilities as further guidance becomes available. Dennis will analyze this decision and its potential effects further in an article in our upcoming November Bulletin. In the meantime, contact our Labor Relations department to discuss options and determine the most prudent course for your company.