EMPLOYER INTERFERENCE, RESTRAINT, COERCION, EMPLOYER CONDUCT AFFECTING ORGANIZING, UNION ACCESS; SOLICITATION, AND OTHER UNION RIGHTS – In General; Prima Facie Case.
Single Topic for Decision 2522H
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401.01000 – In General; Prima Facie Case.
Allegation that employer’s agent told probationary employee she “should not talk to anyone about the investigation” of a fellow employee’s complaint of abusive treatment against supervisor stated prima facie case of interference with protected rights, since, on its face and without further explanation, a directive not to talk to “anyone” could reasonably be construed to prohibit contacting union representatives, or enlisting the support of other employees for the complaint. (p. 22.) To the extent that an employer’s directive or policy of maintaining “confidentiality” of investigations into employee grievances “muzzles” employees who seek to engage in concerted activity for mutual aid or protection by denying them the very information needed to discuss their wages, hours or working conditions, it necessarily harms employee rights. (p. 21.) Once it is established that the employer’s prohibition on discussing wages, hours or working conditions adversely affects protected rights, the burden falls on the employer to demonstrate “legitimate and substantial business justifications” for its conduct. (21-22.) To overcome a presumption of invalidity stemming from a vague or overinclusive rule, the employer must make it clear to employees that the thrust of an inexplicitly-worded confidentiality rule is not to prohibit discussion of their terms and conditions of employment. (Ibid.)