Earlier this week, a representative for the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) announced that the National Labor Relations Board has issued a complaint against Ikea USA. While details remain sparse, the complaint alleges that Ikea unlawfully interrogated employees concerning their support for the UFCW, and also maintained an overly broad social media policy.
An Ikea employee blasted the company in a statement to the press:
“My coworkers and I came together to make IKEA better because we love our jobs and we believed in the company’s values,” said Nancy Goetz, a worker in the Stoughton IKEA. “In other countries, IKEA works collaboratively with the workers’ unions to solve problems. I never thought that IKEA would allow supervisors to intimidate and interrogate us. I expected more from IKEA. I expected that my rights would be respected.”
Again, it is unclear whether the complaint is meritorious as factual allegations are few. However, this case should serve as a reminder to employers to tread very carefully when dealing with union organizers or union campaigns. The current state of the law is highly protective of union organizers and sympathizers, so employers should not hesitate to contact a labor relations attorney for assistance.
Furthermore, the issuance of a charge regarding Ikea’s social media policy seems to be par for the course for the current Board and General Counsel. As we have seen repeatedly over the past couple of years, the General Counsel has taken great interest in employer policies and handbooks, and the Board has regularly found employer social media policies that prohibit employees from speaking out about working conditions to be unlawful. Accordingly, employers would do well to ask their labor lawyer to review their employee policies to ensure that the policies do not violate the National Labor Relations Act.