Employers take note — there is a new NLRB general counsel in town, Jennifer Abruzzo, and she intends to make some changes. Specifically, she issued a recent memo that proposes change to long-standing law about what are called “captive audience meetings.”
What is a captive audience meeting?
For nearly 75 years, employers have had the right to hold mandatory meetings with their employees to explain the company’s view on unions and union organization efforts. These meeting were fine as long as what was said in the meetings was not coercive or restraining and basically was truthful fact or opinion (and was not held within 24 hours of a union election).
What is changing?
Abruzzo’s proposed change would make any mandatory meeting about unions – large or small – unlawful no matter what was said. The change is premised on the belief that meetings like this are coercive by their very nature. If employees could not refuse to come to the meeting, an NLRB charge alleging a legal violation could be filed.
Apparently, Abruzzo intends to direct the NLRB offices to pursue such charges even though the law has not changed. This could cause expense and distraction to employers even though no law has been broken. So, be aware that these captive audience meetings are under scrutiny, and plan wisely when considering holding one about unions until this current new challenge works its way through the agency and the courts.