Unhappy at work? It's your right, labor board says - Albuquerque Journal

Unhappy at work? It’s your right, labor board says

Your employer can’t make you be happy at work.

emojisThat’s what the National Labor Relations Board ruled earlier this year in response to complaints by Albuquerque call center employees against T-Mobile.

The board ordered the mobile communication company to delete portions of its employee handbook that prohibits employees from making disparaging remarks about the company and details how employees should maintain a positive work environment.

The case was triggered by three formal complaints. Two complaints were filed by Albuquerque workers employed at the call center on Menaul; one was filed by South Carolina employees. The complaints were brought forward by the Communications Workers of America, which represents T-Mobile employees in several states and is attempting to unionize workers in Albuquerque.

T-Mobile declined to comment.

The complaints alleged that several passages in T-Mobile’s employee handbook have a chilling effect on Section 7 rights, part of a federal law that safeguards workers’ ability to unionize or otherwise protect one another.

The board took particular issue with a section of the handbook that broadly requires workers to “maintain a positive work environment by communicating in a manner that is conducive to effective working relationships with internal and external customers, clients, co-workers, and management.”

The NLRB wrote in its decision, “We find that employees would reasonably construe the rule to restrict potentially controversial or contentious communications and discussions, including those protected by Section 7.”

In its April 29 ruling, the board also demanded T-Mobile remove several other passages in its handbook, including ones that forbade employees from making disparaging comments about the company or its customers, a section that prohibited employees from making video or audio recordings in the workplace, and one that forbade employees from distributing the handbook to outside parties.

T-Mobile argued in the case that reasonable employees would understand the provision as “intended to promote a civil and decent workplace.”

T-Mobile has filed a notice of appeal with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Chris Holland, an attorney at Sutin, Thayer & Browne, which is not involved in the case, noted the ruling was in line with other rulings the NLRB has made in recent years.

“There’s been a lot of activity around Section 7, mostly involving employees saying disparaging things about their employers over social media,” said Holland. “For the most part, the board has been very pro-employee.”

Holland said he thought it was likely that a Section 7 case would make its way to the Supreme Court in the next few years.

The board’s ruling required T-Mobile to distribute updated handbook language within 14 days of the board’s decision. The company was also required to inform employees that unlawful rules had been rescinded.

But Kevin Elder, an employee at T-Mobile’s Menaul call center, said employees were neither given updated policies nor informed of the ruling.

“There’s been no communication and nothing has changed,” said Elder. “There’s still the sense that you have to maintain that positive work environment if you want to move up.”

Hae-Lin Choi, the senior campaign coordinator for T-Mobile at CWA, said the case and its aftermath demonstrate that the company is “ruling through a culture of fear.”

“Your employer can make you do your work, but they can’t force you to be happy while doing it,” said Choi. “That’s something a regime does.”

Home » News » Albuquerque News » Unhappy at work? It’s your right, labor board says

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

APD IDs recent homicide victims
ABQnews Seeker
Detectives released the names of two ... Detectives released the names of two men killed in separate incidents over the past several days in Albuquerque. Albuquerque police spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said ...
APD: Authorities arrest ‘primary' drug supplier to Coronado Park
ABQnews Seeker
Authorities arrested a man accused of ... Authorities arrested a man accused of supplying drugs at Coronado Park and the Ambassador Inn during an undercover operation carried out over the past ...
APD detectives investigating after 2 found dead overnight
ABQnews Seeker
Two people were killed and a ... Two people were killed and a third person was injured early Wednesday morning in what police initially called a single-vehicle crash but later said ...
One of ABQ’s newest speed cameras stolen off its ...
ABQnews Seeker
Just over two weeks after the ... Just over two weeks after the city's mobile speed enforcement device on Lead at Cornell started issuing tickets, vandals removed the camera box
SFNF firewood permits available
ABQnews Seeker
The permits, which expire Dec. 31, ... The permits, which expire Dec. 31, apply to the entire forest, except designated wilderness areas
Man fatally shot on East Central
ABQnews Seeker
A man was shot to death ... A man was shot to death Tuesday night in Southeast Albuquerque. The incident marked the fifth homicide in the city in the past six ...
Four charged in 2020 ABQ homicide
ABQnews Seeker
Suspects arrested on a variety of ... Suspects arrested on a variety of charges, including murder and arson
Albuquerque redistricting committee to take final vote
ABQnews Seeker
City Council undergoes realignment after each ... City Council undergoes realignment after each census
Details emerge in Sunday's deadly shootings
ABQnews Seeker
Video footage and medical evidence shed ... Video footage and medical evidence shed more light on the tragedy