Snell & Wilmer
Legal Alert
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February 11, 2016
Open Door Policies

by Gerard Morales

The Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit recently denied enforcement of an order from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRB believed that the open door policy below prohibited employee complaints or discussions regarding the terms and conditions of employment – a non-supervisory employee right protected by Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act:

“Voice your complaints directly to your immediate superior or to Human Resources through our ‘open door’ policy. Complaining to your fellow employees will not resolve problems. Constructive complaints communicated through the appropriate channels may help improve the workplace for all.”

In some good news for employers, the Court of Appeals found the open door policy was neither mandatory nor preclusive of alternatives. Importantly, there were no penalties for complaints to non-supervisors. The Court further noted that reasonable employees would not read the rule as prohibiting complaints protected by Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act.

Even though the Court ruled in favor of the company, employers may want to consider reviewing their “open door” type of policies and modify, if necessary, any language that could be interpreted as discouraging employees from discussing complaints or concerns regarding the terms and conditions of employment.

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