Two of my colleagues, David Campbell and Don Slezak, have authored an excellent piece on a recent NLRB decision that is a must read for employers with dress code policies. The case grew out of the “Fight for $15” campaign, which seeks to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour.
The decision involved a restaurant chain that prohibited employees from wearing pins that read “Fight for $15” on their uniforms. The employer’s general dress code standards banned any pins, stickers, buttons, etc., that were not provided by the company to be worn on the employee’s uniform. The NLRB found that this violated employees’ Section 8(a)(1) right to wear union insignia, and rejected the employer’s “special circumstances” defense which rested on its desire to maintain a well-groomed and “very clean” public image.
Labor professionals should take note of the NLRB’s lack of deference to the employer’s dress code policy, and the business concerns underlying those policies, when it comes to things like union insignia or other indicia of employee protected, concerted activity.