Law School Case Brief
Quicken Loans, Inc. v. NLRB - 424 U.S. App. D.C. 282, 830 F.3d 542 (2016)
Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C.S. § 151 et seq., guarantees employees the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection. 29 U.S.C.S. § 157. Employers that interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed by Section 7 commit an unfair labor practice, 29 U.S.C.S. § 158(a)(1), and are subject to civil sanction by the National Labor Relations Board.
Lydia Garza began working as a mortgage banker in Quicken's Scottsdale, Arizona office in 2006, and signed a copy of the Employment Agreement containing both the Confidentiality and Non-Disparagement Rules. In 2011, she resigned and took a job with one of Quicken's competitors. Quicken then sued Garza for violating no-contact/no-raiding and no-competition provisions of the Employment Agreement. Garza responded by filing an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that the Confidentiality and Non-Disparagement Rules interfered with Quicken employees' Section 7 rights, in violation of the National Labor Relations Act. The Board's Regional Director accepted Garza's charge, and filed an unfair labor practice complaint against Quicken.
Is the Confidentiality Rule that hindered employees to discuss with others, including their fellow employees or union representatives, the wages and other benefits that they receive and the Disparagement Rule that prohibited employees from "publicly criticizing, ridiculing, disparaging or defaming the company through any written or oral statement, valid?
The court held that an employer's rule prohibiting employees from sharing employee information was properly found to violate the NLRA since the prohibition directly interfered with the employees' ability to discuss their wages and other terms and conditions of employment with their fellow employees or union organizers which was a core right; -The employer's rule directly forbidding employees from expressing negative opinions about the employer, its policies, or its leadership in almost any public forum was properly found to significantly impede the employees' right to air their grievances in public.
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