Photo of Keahn Morris

Keahn Morris is a partner in the Labor and Employment Practice Group in the firm's San Francisco office.

On the heels of the National Labor Relations Board’s decision in McLaren Macomb, which invalidated most confidentiality and nondisparagement provisions in a variety of employment agreements (as we covered here and here), NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo (the “GC”) issued GC Memorandum 23-08 on May 30, 2023, announcing that, in her view, the proffer, maintenance, and enforcement of non-compete provisions violate Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act (the “Act”) except in very limited circumstances. This direct challenge to the lawfulness of commonly-used non-compete agreements mirrors the Federal Trade Commission’s (“FTC”) recent proposed rulemaking that would ban employers from imposing such agreements on their workers, and follows the Board’s memoranda of understanding with the FTC and the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, both of which addressed the anticompetitive effects of non-compete agreements (covered here). Continue Reading NLRB General Counsel Announces Employee Non-Compete Agreements Violate the NLRA

On May 16, 2023, National Labor Relations Board General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo (the “GC”) issued revisions to her original July 6, 2020 memorandum of suggested manual election protocols for use during the COVID-19 pandemic, found here. The Board’s policies have generally favored manual elections, but that rule was upended by the COVID-19 pandemic. During the onset of COVID-19, manual elections were halted completely and when elections resumed, they were conducted by mail-in ballot to ensure participant safety. As the pandemic wore on and more workers and employers alike learned how to safely return to the physical workplace, the Board issued its initial suggestions of how to safely conduct a manual election, signaling a desire to return to the status quo.Continue Reading Back to Normal, Almost – NLRB General Counsel Issues Updated Guidance on Suggested Manual Election Protocols and Push for Manual Elections by the NLRB

In a decision that had been anticipated, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or “Board”) abandoned its short-lived burden-shifting test for determining the legality of employer discipline of employees found to have engaged in abusive or inappropriate conduct. Robbed of the ability to simply demonstrate any such discipline was not in retaliation for protected conduct. Employers will once again be called upon to grapple with a list of indefinite factors that has oftentimes rendered similar outrageous workplace conduct immune from discipline. Continue Reading …But Words Will Never Harm Us? The NLRB Restores Precedent Protecting Abusive Workplace Speech by Employees While They Are Engaged in Protected Concerted and Union Activities

On March 20, 2022, National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or the “Board”) General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo issued a memorandum to all Regional Directors, Officers-in-Charge, and Resident Officers updating the cases they are required to send to the NLRB Division of Advice before processing further in order to “allow the Regional Advice Branch to reexamine these areas and counsel the General Counsel’s office on whether [a] change [in the law] is necessary to fulfill the Act’s mission.”Continue Reading NLRB General Counsel Issues Memo Updating Prosecutorial Priorities

On March 22, 2023 Jennifer Abruzzo, General Counsel (“GC”) of the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or the “Board”) issued a memorandum intended to assist the Regions in responding to inquiries regarding the Board decision in McLaren Macomb, 372 NLRB No. 58 (2023).Continue Reading NLRB General Counsel Releases Memo Concerning Confidentiality and Non-Disparagement Clauses in Severance Agreements Post-McLaren

As we previously reported, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or “Board”) under President Biden is working to undo much of any employer-friendly actions taken during the previous administration. On February 21, 2023, the Board continued in its trend and wiped away a Trump-era ruling which gave employers certain latitude in drafting and executing severance agreements with their employees. Specifically, the Board, in a divided decision, ruled employers can no longer offer severance agreements containing clauses that (i) prevent employees from making disparaging remarks about their former employer or (ii) compel departing employees to keep the contents of the severance agreement confidential.Continue Reading We Can Now Add Civility and Secrecy to the List of Things Money Can’t Buy: NLRB Rules Non-Disparagement and Confidentiality Clauses in Severance Agreements Unlawfully Restrain and Coerce Employees

The new year begins with one of the most anticipated labor cases on the high court’s docket in decades. On January 10, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in Glacier Northwest, Inc. v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local Union No. 174 to decide whether the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA” or the “Act”) preempts state court lawsuits for tort damages caused by unions during strikes. Employers should gain much greater clarity into whether they can seek relief from such conduct via a damages lawsuit. If the U.S. Supreme Court finds that such conduct is not preempted and may be litigated in state court, such a ruling would go far in protecting employers’ interests in contentious labor disputes and potentially shift the balance of power toward employers during these disputes. Continue Reading SCOTUS Hears Oral Argument on Whether NLRA Preempts State Court Lawsuits Against Unions for Property Damage Caused During Labor Disputes

On December 16, 2022, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or “Board”) abandoned the employer-friendly access standard for off-duty employees of an onsite contractor that was adopted under the Trump Administration in Bexar County Performing Arts Center Foundation d/b/a Tobin Center for the Performing Arts and Local 23, American Federation of Musicians, 368 NLRB No. 46 (2019)(“Bexar County I). Given a chance to revisit the Trump-era standard, the current Board, seeing “no reason to attempt to rehabilitate a standard that fundamentally fails off-duty contractor employees by almost always denying them their right to engage in Section 7 activities at their workplace,” rejected the access standard from Bexar County I and reinstated the previously court-approved (and union advantageous) standard announced in New York New York Hotel & Casino, 356 NLRB 907 (2011), enfd. 676 F.3d 193 (D.C. Cir. 2012), cert. denied 568 U.S. 1244. See Bexar County Performing Arts Center Foundation d/b/a Tobin Center for the Performing Arts and Local 23, American Federation of Musicians, 372 NLRB No. 28 (2022) (Bexar County II).Continue Reading NLRB Provides Off-Duty Contractor Employees With Property Access to Engage in Section 7 Activity

As we previously predicted, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or the “Board”) issued its decision in American Steel Construction, Inc. (available here) and yet again overruled another case decided under the Trump Administration.Continue Reading NLRB Confirms a Return to Union Gerrymandered Bargaining Units

On October 31, 2022, Jennifer Abruzzo, the NLRB’s General Counsel (GC), released a memorandum regarding employer use of electronic surveillance and automated management, and its potential interference with employees’ ability to confidentially engage in protected activity under Section 7 of the Act. Opining that “[a]n issue of particular concern to me is the potential for omnipresent surveillance and other algorithmic-management tools to interfere with the exercise of Section 7 rights by significantly impairing or negating employees’ ability to engage in protected activity and keep that activity confidential from their employer, if they so choose,” the GC signaled an increased scrutiny of certain surveillance methods utilized by employers and further urged the Board to protect employees from intrusive electronic monitoring “and automated management practices that would have a tendency to interfere with Section 7 rights” by “zealously” enforcing existing law and by proactively applying settled labor-law principles in a “new way.”Continue Reading Caught on Video No More? NLRB General Counsel Releases Memo Urging Board to Curtail Employer Use of a Variety of Surveillance Technologies in Workplace