Vigilant Blog

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

Apr 06, 2011

Protesting dress code was protected under NLRA


A sales representatives angry questioning of a new dress code to a vice president, in front of other sales reps, was protected concerted activity under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), ruled the National Labor Relations Board. Male employees were accustomed to wearing Tommy Bahama style shirts, in keeping with the employers resort casual dress code. Shortly before a sales team meeting, a vice president told one of the employees that the company was going to start requiring the men to tuck in their shirts. The employee received a written warning and was later discharged on the basis that he challenged the policy in front of the other sales reps.

The Board ruled that his actions were protected because they related to a working condition and they were concerted (i.e., for mutual aid and protection, not a selfish individual pursuit) because the employee used the terms we and us rather than me or I, the policy affected all of the male sales reps, and he raised the issue in front of his affected co-workers (Wyndham Resort Development Corp., NLRB, Mar. 2011).

Tips: Dont let anger overcome your evaluation of protections under the NLRA when an employee protests wages, hours, or working conditions. Terminating an employee for such an action can be an expensive mistake. The Board has recently instituted new procedures for calculating back pay by compounding interest daily. For further guidance on when an employees complaint may be protected by law, see our Legal Guide, Handling Workplace Protests and Complaints (1238).

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