The National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) ruled  that a hospital’s dress code prohibiting non-approved pins and badges, including union pins, was a violation of the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”)

Generally, employees have a right under the NLRA to wear union insignia, such as pins, at work. However, due to employer concerns about disruption to the quality of patient care, the Board has developed special rules limiting this free speech right in health care facilities..

In this case,  NLRB found that the hospital broke the law by maintaining a dress code rule applicable to all employees, including employees in non–patient care areas, that stated that only hospital “approved pins, badges, and professional certifications may be worn.

The NLRB also held the hospital's badge reel policy violated the law because it did not say  it only applied in immediate patient care areas The NLRB emphasized that workers have broader rights in non-patient care areas.

The bottom line here is that rules in health care facilities limiting a worker’s free speech right to wear pins, logos, and such, must be very carefully drafted, to apply some limits only in patient care areas and only if the message may disrupt patient care.

Link to decision: http://apps.nlrb.gov/link/document.aspx/09031d458278998d

By Carlos Almendrez | January 4, 2019

Legal Developments