(CNN) If your company fires you, your employer may offer you severance pay—but only if you agree to abide by a number of restrictions.
Staying calm is often one of them.
But this week the National Labor Relations Board told employers that they can no longer silence employees who are laid off in two very specific ways that the board says violate employees’ rights under Sections 7 and 8(a)(1) of the Labor Relations Board. National Labor Relations Act.
Employers can no longer include the broadly written confidentiality clause that requires you to remain silent about the terms of your severance agreement. And they can no longer include a broadly written non-selective clause that prevents you from discussing the terms and conditions of your business with third parties.
“A termination agreement is illegal if it prohibits the employee from assisting co-workers with workplace issues related to the employer, and from communicating with others, including the union and the board of directors, about his employment,” the council wrote in the council. Its decision is Tuesday.
The ruling is the opposite of what NLRB members decided under Trump in an earlier case that were legal restrictions on employees as a condition of obtaining severance.
With the exception of railroads and airlines, business owners in the United States are under the jurisdiction of the NLRB.
And while the works council’s decision could be appealed this week, the ruling is effective immediately. This means that employers must review — and, if necessary, revise — their termination agreements to ensure that they do not include overly broad language that would restrict workers’ rights in the two ways that the board’s decision indicates.
The board’s decision will return a little bit of authority to employees, but how that plays out remains to be seen.
“Companies are certainly incentivized to silence their departing employees…[because it helps them keep] All the skeletons in the closet,” employment attorney Alex Granovsky told CNN via email.
“This decision opens the door. While sunshine is the best medicine in one sense, and greater exposure should lead to better companies, this decision may also change the dynamics of Separation negotiations. “
– CNN’s Chris Isidore contributes to this report
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