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Cintas Corp. v. National Labor Relations Board
United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
482 F.3d 463 (2007)
Nationwide work-uniform supplier Cintas Corp. (defendant) included confidentiality provisions in its employee handbook. A section describing the company’s principles and values stated, “We honor confidentiality. We recognize and protect the confidentiality of any information concerning the company, . . . its partners, . . . and accounting and financial matters.” Another section titled “Discipline Policy” warned employees they could be sanctioned for “violating a confidence or unauthorized release of confidential information.” The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) (plaintiff) found that the rule violated the Wagner Act because employees could reasonably interpret it to prohibit discussions about the terms and conditions of their employment. Cintas appealed on three grounds. First, Cintas claimed the confidentiality provisions did not explicitly prohibit activity protected under the Wagner Act. Second, no evidence showed employees actually interpreted the confidentiality provisions to proscribe protected discussions. Third, the company itself never construed or applied the provisions as prohibiting protected activity. The NLRB countered that the rules could still interfere with protected activities, despite not explicitly prohibiting them and the employees and Cintas never interpreting them to do so.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Griffith, J.)
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