Vigilant Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law, HR, safety & workers' comp

Jan 26, 2010

Employer ordered to rescind media contact policy


A policy that prohibited non-executives from speaking to the media without prior authorization was unlawful, ruled the National Labor Relations Board. The Board said the policy interfered with nonmanagement employees rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to band together and communicate with the public about an ongoing labor dispute. In this case, a pro-union worker had received a favorable ruling against the employer in an unfair labor practices complaint, and was quoted in a union press release saying, The judge got this one exactly right. When the quote showed up in an Associated Press article, the employees supervisor asked him if he had talked to a reporter and reminded him of the companys policy against talking with the media without authorization. The Board found the supervisors questions and the policy were unlawful (Trump Marina Associates, LLC, NLRB, Dec. 2009).

Tips: Its natural to want to control company-related statements to the media. The challenge is crafting a policy that doesnt run afoul of the NLRA. Consider using this language: Only the following individuals are authorized to communicate with the media on the companys behalf: [list job titles]. In all other cases, you are not permitted to communicate with the media about issues related to our business, except to the extent that your communication is protected by law. For example, the National Labor Relations Act protects communication by most nonmanagement employees on issues of mutual aid and protection related to wages, hours or working conditions.

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