Confidentiality Agreements and the Workplace!

Confidentiality Agreements Pertaining to Employer Internal Investigations

Recently, a National Labor Relations Board ruling held that that a company committed an unfair labor practice when it required its employees to agree to keep internal company investigation interviews confidential under a blanket confidentiality policy. This ruling is leading many employers to amend their employment policies to change their internal investigative policies and practices when investigating employee complaints and misconduct. Rather than blanketing all investigative interviews under the veil of confidentiality, the decision requires that the employer justify the use of confidentiality by showing that the company has a legitimate business justification that outweighs its employees Section 7 rights. A company’s generalized concern with protecting the integrity of its investigations was held by the Board to be insufficient. The Board held that confidentiality may be appropriate when the employer is requesting it in situations that fall within one of four categories: 1) to protect a witness; 2) to stop evidence from being destroyed; 3) to avert fabricated testimony; or 4)to prevent a cover up. These categories suggest that the Board is adamantly against blanket confidentiality agreements in the context of employer internal investigations.

For questions about this and other employment law issues please contact Andrew Norton at Anderson Jones, PLLC at (919) 277-2541 or by email!