If you have an employee handbook, it probably contains a disclaimer stating that employees are at-will, meaning that employees can be fired with or without cause. The NLRB has again weighed in on at-will disclaimers and its conclusions are, again, interesting.
In a recent NLRB opinion, the administrative law judge ruled that the following at-will disclaimer violated the National Labor Relations Act:
I further agree that the at-will employment relationship cannot be amended, modified or altered in any way.
The judge determined that this at-will disclaimer was too broad and was essentially a waiver in which an employee agrees that her at-will status cannot change, thereby relinquishing her right to advocate concertedly, whether represented by a union or not, to change her at-will status.
In light of this conclusion, what’s an employer to do notify employees that they are at-will? Well, the NLRB also issued a few advice memoranda identifying at-will disclaimers that are acceptable. The language of one at-will disclaimer that the NLRB approved states:
The relationship between you and the Company is referred to as employment “at will.” This means that your employment can be terminated at any time for any reason, with or without cause, with or without notice, by you or the Company. No representative of the Company has authority to enter into any agreement contrary to the foregoing “employment at will” relationship. Nothing contained in this handbook creates an express or implied contract of employment.
So, does your employee handbook contain an at-will disclaimer? Will it pass must under the guidance provided by the NLRB? I recommend you take a look and contact your employment counsel if you are not sure.