(CNN) If your company fires you, your employer can offer you severance pay, but only if you agree to abide by some restrictions.
Keeping quiet is often one of them.
But the National Labor Relations Board warned employers this week that they can no longer silence laid-off workers in two very specific ways that the board says violate workers’ rights under Sections 7 and 8(a)(1). ) of the National Labor Relations Board. Law on relations.
Employers can no longer include a broadly written confidentiality clause that requires you to keep quiet about the terms of your termination agreement. And they can no longer include a broadly written non-disparaging clause prohibiting you from discussing the terms of your employment with any third party.
“A termination agreement is illegal if it prevents an employee from helping colleagues with workplace issues related to their employer, and from communicating with others, including a union, and the board, about their employment,” the board wrote in Tuesday. his decision.
The ruling is a reversal of what the Trump-era NLRB members had decided in an earlier case as legal restrictions on workers as a condition of receiving a layoff.
With the exception of railroads and airlines, U.S. corporate employers are subject to the authority of the NLRB.
Although this week’s ruling by the labor council can be appealed, the ruling is effective immediately. That means employers should review — and if necessary revise — their termination agreements to make sure they don’t contain overly broad language that would limit workers’ rights in the two ways the board decision points out.
The board’s decision will return some power to employees, but how it pans 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,” labor lawyer Alex Granovsky told CNN via email.
“This decision opens the door. While on the one hand sunlight is the best medicine, and greater exposure should lead to better companies, this decision could also change the dynamics of a layoff negotiation.”
— CNN’s Chris Isidore contributes to this report