NLRB Aiming at Workplace Confidentiality Policies

HR Resource
September 11, 2013 — 2,253 views  
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Over the years, the confidential policies for investigation and the confidential or proprietary policies for information have come under the scope of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). When individuals join organizations, they sign a confidentiality agreement which expires long after they have left the company as well.

However, in most corporations, employees at lower levels generally do not know much about the process involved and what decision making is being made on the behalf of the company. Instead, they simply follow instructions. The NLRB is pointing out that under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), Section 7, all employees have a right to know and be a part of “concerted activities” so that everyone is protected within the firm.

Confidential Policies Regarding Investigation

During investigations, it is up to certain employees who are well connected to investigate other employees without letting out the fact that they are involved in the process of investigation. Most often this is done on the low so that the company does not lose name and so that the employees do not feel offended and retaliate. The reasons behind the confidentiality are perfectly understandable; however, it is still a matter of concern that has come under the scrutinizing eye of the NLRB.

In fact it has become such a serious issue that employers cannot even recommend their employees to refrain from mentioning ongoing investigations to others. The logic behind this is that when an employer makes such a recommendation it is almost an order because most employees would prefer to stay in the good books of their managers.

Boeing was recently made an example out of when the NLRB judge struck down on the firm for simply recommending that an inside investigation need not be discussed openly among employees. The decision was made because of the same logic that recommendations made by higher authorities in the corporate hierarchy are similar to regulations and will be followed so that internal relations in the company can be maintained at vertical levels.

Confidential Policies Regarding Information

Not only were the policies on investigation looked at, but the confidentiality regarding information policies have also been seen as a violation of the Section 7 in the NLRA. Employees under the Act have the right to communicate personal details like salary if they wish to disclose such information. Another example to accentuate this point was the recent strike down on American Red Cross.

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