Quicken case could define worker free-speech rules
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) says mortgage giant Quicken Loans overly restricts its employees' free speech and filed a complaint that could have long-ranging effects on what workers are allowed to say about their companies on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The NLRB complaint is to go to trial in Detroit before a federal administrative law judge on Nov. 2. Quicken has denied that its work rules spelled out in an employee handbook are overly restrictive. The NLRB complaint against Quicken says its worker rules violate the National Labor Relations Act that permits workers to discuss pay and other policies for the purposes of organizing for collective bargaining.
Marick Masters, professor of management at Wayne State University School of Business and director of Labor@Wayne, said the NLRB generally allows companies to protect their trade secrets but not to bar employees from discussing more routine matters such as their salaries or wage levels. “Their tendency is to take a pretty dim view of policies that are over-broad,” Masters said. “If you tell an employee that they can’t complain to other employees about their working conditions, you’re going to get in trouble for that. If you tell an employee that they can’t talk to people on the outside about their working conditions, you’re going to get in trouble for that.”