Cintas Corp., 344 NLRB No. 118 (June 30, 2005)

Cintas Corporation, which, among other things, designs and manufactures corporate uniforms, maintained a provision in its employee handbook stating that it honors the confidentiality of its clients, their business plans, partners, new business efforts, customers, accounting and financial matters. Included among the types of behavior that could result in disciplinary action was “violating a confidence or unauthorized release of confidential information.” The employees’ union asserted that these rules violated the National Labor Relations Act since they could reasonably be construed by employees to restrict discussion of wages and other terms and conditions of employment with their fellow employees and with the union. The NLRB agreed and ordered Cintas to rescind the challenged language from its employee handbook, notify each employee in writing of the rescission and post a notice to employees to the same effect. See also Guardsmark, LLC, 344 NLRB No. 97 (June 7, 2005) (employer could not maintain a rule prohibiting employees from complaining to customers about the terms and conditions of their employment or from solicitation and distribution of literature while in uniform); cf. Chamber of Commerce v. Lockyer, 422 F.3d 973 (9th Cir. 2005) (California statute barring employers from spending “state funds” on union-related speech is preempted by federal law).