NLRB Finds Hospital’s Dress Code Change Invalid

On April 30 2014, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ordered a New Jersey hospital to cease from enforcing its new dress code, because it did not first notify the employees’ union about the change in uniform policy, and therefore, did not give it an opportunity to bargain.  The Board also ordered the hospital to compensate any employees adversely impacted by the change.

Prior to the new policy, the hospital permitted employees to determine the color and type of their scrubs.  Under the new policy, color-coded uniforms were assigned to each hospital department.  Though the hospital provided three free uniforms to each employee, the changes had a potential significant financial impact on the employees because the new uniforms rendered useless, most, if not all, of their personal scrub inventories.  Additionally, under the policy, employees who wanted warmer options would have to purchase coordinating solid or print warm-up jackets.

The union challenged the hospital for unilaterally implementing the dress code policy in violation of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).  Under the NLRA, employers have a duty to bargain in good faith with union representatives about mandatory subjects of bargaining, which generally include uniform requirements and workplace attire.

Should you have any question about the ruling in Salem Hosp. Corp. a/k/a the Mem. Hosp. of Salem County and Health Professionals and Allied Employees (HPAE), Case 04-097635, 360 NLRB No 95 (Apr. 30, 2014), please contact Marianne Monroy, Lauren Rieders, or the GW attorney with whom you regularly work.

~ Submitted by M Monroy and L Rieders

Categories: Employment Law