May an employer prohibit an employee from wearing pro-union apparel, e.g., t-shirts, hats, pins?
Author: Jessica Sussman
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has held that an employee has a protected right to make his or her concerns and grievances known by putting such messages on pins, hats, shirts, and other appeal. However, this right may be overridden by special circumstances. The NLRB has accepted the existence of special circumstances when the employer can demonstrate that the display of the union insignia jeopardizes employee safety, damages machinery or products, fuels employee dissension, or unreasonably interferes with, or jeopardizes, the employer's public image. The NLRB has further accepted the special circumstances defense when the employer provides it must maintain decorum and discipline its employees.