Here's the Ultimatum That Led NLRB to Ban Severance Benefit NDAs
Don't make workers choose between benefits and exercising their rights, Board rules
The National Labor Relations Board on February 21 ruled that “employers may not offer employees severance agreements that… prohibited them from making statements that could disparage the employer and from disclosing the terms of the agreement itself.”
You may have heard about this decision and read some interpretations. But did you see the language that put the offending employer, McLaren Macomb, in the doghouse? Now you have:
Confidentiality Agreement. The Employee acknowledges that the… Agreement… [is] confidential and agrees not to disclose… [it] to any third person, other than spouse, or as necessary to professional advisors for the purposes of obtaining legal counsel or tax advice, or unless legally compelled to do so by a court or administrative agency of competent jurisdiction.
Non-Disclosure. …[T]he Employee… agrees not to disclose information, knowledge or materials of a confidential, privileged, or proprietary nature of which the Employee has or had knowledge of, or involvement with, by reason of the Employee's employment. At all times hereafter, the Employee agrees not to make statements to Employer’s employees or to the general public which could disparage or harm the image of Employer….
In June, McLaren Macomb, which operates a hospital in Mt. Clemens, Michigan, presented a “Severance Agreement, Waiver and Release” to each of 11 permanently furloughed employees, offering differing severance pay to each if they signed. The Agreement allowed McLaren Macomb to impose monetary penalties if the signers violated the terms.
NLRB remarked, “It’s long been understood by the Board and the courts that employers cannot ask individual employees to choose between receiving benefits and exercising their rights under the National Labor Relations Act.”
(Read the pdf of NLRB’s full decision, which includes, as an Appendix, the crow-eating Notice To Employees the Board required McLaren Macomb to post. If civility and the law don’t keep employers on the straight and narrow, maybe the prospect of posting a notice like this will.)
If LinkedIn Is the Rubber, Is Reddit the Glue?
Subreddit Lives to Mock LinkedIn
If you’re on LinkedIn, you’re probably not on Reddit — the unLinkedIn. So you may not know about the LinkedIn Lunatics subreddit, which has attracted 235k members. That’s 235k, with… um… a k.
The group’s description:
“Scroll through LinkedIn and you will find a mix of rampant virtue signaling, cringeworthy titles, and stories that could come from r/thathappened [the 1.5M-member group for “telling outrageous tall tales”]. This subreddit is for sharing and discussing these LinkedIn characters.”
In a recent post a member going by horsepathic described the changes they’ve seen in LinkedIn:
“Now it seems like a cesspool of idiotic content that’s almost universally supported instead of mocked. Are all the sane people just sitting on the sidelines while the lunatics destroy their professional reputations?”
Of course, the subreddit is its own echo chamber and, while a few redditors defended LinkedIn, saying that the platform’s arc is merely the same as all social media (specifically comparing it to TikTok), most folks agreed with horsepathic.
Fun_Independent_7529 shared their observation of LinkedIn usage trends:
“I think people mostly gave up. Except for a couple of cranky older folks that I follow who call out people on their BS every day, whose comments I love because they are wise and good.”
[First: Ouch. Second, guilty as charged. Also, thank you for following. — Bob]
“I finally realized that LinkedIn made me feel worse about myself than any other social media site I was doom scrolling. Deleted that shit and won’t even think about it again unless I’m unemployed.”
[Damn. Redditor notbenfolds truly is not Ben Folds.]
Putting aside, if possible, the group’s unskillful use of words like “insane” and “lunacy” (see, that’s why you’re not on Reddit), do they have a point? Share your take in the Comments, below.
Well, this is awkward. But here goes…
Don McCreary posts some of the most intelligent stuff on LinkedIn, especially on topics related to work, mental health, and gender. Last week, he shared an article (it’s paywalled, but he summarizes it well), demonstrating that “disclosing a psychological health condition to a manager opens employees up to discrimination based on stereotypes, not their actual behavior.” Check out Dr. McCreary’s summary and the Comments that followed (several address the paywalling of research articles).
Paid Menstrual Leave: Marija Butkovic shares a Washington Post article (I was able to access it. Either way, Marija provides excerpts) about Spain becoming “the first European country to entitle workers to paid menstrual leave.” The WaPo article included a round-up of comparable legislation around the world. I wasn’t expecting this: “Japan introduced menstrual leave in the labor law in 1947.”
Tale of the Tape
Calling It Salary Doesn’t Make It So. The Supreme Court ruled that even a highly compensated employee is entitled to overtime pay when their paycheck is based solely on a daily rate.
The lawsuit was brought by Michael Hewitt, who from 2014 to 2017 supervised 12 to 14 workers on an offshore oil rig for Helix Energy Solutions Group. He earned more than $200k a year, working mostly 12-hour days, seven days a week during a 28-day “hitch.” He then had 28 days off before reporting back to the rig.
Hewitt’s daily rate ranged from $963 to $1,341 per day; his biweekly paycheck amounted to his daily rate times the number of days he had worked in the pay period.
The employer argued that Hewitt was paid on salary, not hourly or daily, because he was highly paid and received a check every two weeks.
The Court interpreted the rules differently:
“Most simply put, an employee paid on an hourly basis is paid by the hour, an employee paid on a daily basis is paid by the day, and an employee paid on a weekly basis is paid by the week—irrespective of when or how often his employer actually doles out the money.”
For the ins an outs, skim the pdf of the decision. SHRM provides more succinct coverage on its website.