Whistleblowers' Rights Could be at Risk Under New Labor Board

As the Trump administration has appointed new board members and replaced top staffers at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), it has signaled a directional shift in interpreting workers' rights laws. Uber drivers discovered this when a recent NLRB memo undercut their movement to organize for higher wages and better working conditions.

While this was a setback for union organizers, an equally consequential workers' rights case, attracting far less notice, is awaiting a ruling by the full five-member NLRB. It involves free-speech rights that, until now, seemed securely protected by the National Labor Relations Act.
For about 85 years, the National Labor Relations Act has protected the rights of private-sector workers to discuss job-related concerns among themselves, and — importantly — with outsiders, including the news media.
Currently, Google and its parent company, Alphabet, are facing accusations of violating the federal workers' rights law, which has been applied for decades to prevent employers — including President Trump's former Atlantic City resort hotel — from silencing employee complaints.
Indeed, companies large and small — including the president's own — have regularly been caught forbidding their employees from giving interviews without supervisory approval, and have been sanctioned by federal regulators for excessively controlling their employees' speech.
Now, the president's appointees to the NLRB have a chance to reaffirm — or retreat from — decades' worth of legal precedent protecting whistleblowers' rights.


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