Sodexo Settles Speech Case With the NLRB, Must Notify Every Worker in U.S. of Right to Speak About Workplace Issues

Mar 09, 2011, 13:21 ET from Service Employees International Union

WASHINGTON, March 9, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a victory for workers, Sodexo has agreed to settle a case before the National Labor Relations Board concerning its media policy for workers. As a result, Sodexo has issued a new media policy that does not infringe upon the right of workers to speak about their working conditions and workplace issues. Sodexo must notify all workers in the U.S. about the policy change.

Sodexo's previous media policy was extremely restrictive and directed workers not to talk to the media about "any subject." The full policy read:

"Do not make statements or comments to the media. If you are asked by the media to speak or comment on any subject, contact your manager or Corporate Communications immediately."

SEIU filed an unfair labor practice charge with the NLRB, arguing that the media policy was impermissibly broad and had the effect of intimidating workers out of exercising their long-established right to speak in public and advocate for improvements in their working conditions.

Sodexo's settlement of the charge resolves the case without a hearing, and requires the company to issue a revised policy to all employees in the United States outlining their legal rights. It makes clear that restrictions on workers' speech only apply when they are speaking "on behalf of" the company -- something which rarely, if ever, happens.

SOURCE Service Employees International Union