Labor: NLRB finds at-will employment clauses live to see another day

Employers can still limit the ability of employees to change their at-will status without running afoul of the NLRA

Many employers across the country are well aware the general counsel for the National Labor Relations Board has taken unprecedented steps to renew the application of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to unorganized workforces. Among the issues generating concern for all employers are recent efforts to target at-will employment language in employee handbooks as unlawful under the NLRA. Two advisory memoranda released at the end of October addressed this issue with surprising results.

The recent advisory memoranda examined the at-will employment handbook language of two employers and determined both were lawful under the NLRA. In the first, the employer’s at-will clause stated, “No representative of the Company has authority to enter into any agreement contrary to the foregoing ‘employment at will’ relationship.” In the second, the language at issue provided, “No manager, supervisor, or employee of [the employer] has any authority to enter into an agreement for employment for any specified period of time or to make an agreement for employment other than at-will. Only the president of the Company has the authority to make any such agreement and then only in writing.” Though different, similar analysis was applied to these clauses.

Contributing Author

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Mark Spognardi

Mark Spognardi is a partner at Arnstein & Lehr. He focuses on representing management in traditional and non-traditional labor and employment law matters, including counseling,...

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Contributing Author

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Jesse Dill

Jesse R. Dill is an associate in the Milwaukee office of Arnstein & Lehr. He is a member of the firm’s Labor & Employment Practice Group....

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