The general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board issued a clarifying memo on Wednesday regarding the “scope” of a February ruling by the federal agency’s board that said employers cannot include blanket non-disparagement clauses in their severance packages, nor demand laid-off employees keep secret the terms of their exit agreements.
Such provisions have become increasingly common in recent years, muzzling employees and otherwise stopping them from speaking up about working conditions by dangling a few weeks or months of pay in front of them at the exact moment they are losing their job.
In the memo, sent to regional offices, General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo addressed what had been one of the largest questions that resulted from the ruling: Does it retroactively void broad non-disparagement agreements that were signed prior to the February ruling? Abruzzo wrote that the decision does, in fact, have “retroactive application,” meaning that already-signed and “overly broad” non-disparagement clauses are no longer considered valid by the NLRB.
It will be great until the Supreme Court uses it to revive Lochner, at least.