Employers Cannot Require Investigations to Remain Confidential Except . . .

If your company has a rule that prevents employees from talking about ongoing internal investigations, you may want to think about changing it.  Thanks to a recent decision from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), companies cannot have a blanket policy that prohibits employees from discussing ongoing internal investigations.

The NLRB admits that there are times when confidentiality is appropriate — like if a witness’ safety is in question, if evidence might be destroyed, or if attorney-client privilege comes into play.  However, employers need to have a legitimate reason for forbidding their employees from talking.  A “generalized concern” isn’t good enough.  Instead, the NLRB says, employees have a right to engage in “concerted activities” for their mutual aid and protection.

The decision applies to both union and non-union workers.

So, what should you do if you have a confidentiality rule in place?

Take a look at it, and see if it’s still appropriate.  Then, take a look at your forms, internal procedures, and anything else that may prevent you from complying with all of the NLRB’s rules.

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