South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Employees Represented by Union May Not Be Forced to Wear Union Logo
Description Appeals court held that even though a collective bargaining agreement required employees to wear a union logo on their uniform, the requirement was in violation of the NLRA, as employees have the right not to engage in union activities.
Topic Labor Law
Key Words Union Logo; Public Image
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts BellSouth and the Communications Workers of America (CWA) have had a collective bargaining agreement for decades. The agreement required employees who have contact with the public to wear a uniform bearing both the BellSouth logo and the CWA logo. This applies to all employees in such job categories, whether they are union members or not. Those who do not comply with the requirement are subject to discipline. Lee, who is not a union member, objected to wearing the union logo as an unfair labor practice. The NLRB upheld the requirement to wear the logo. Lee appealed.
Decision

Vacated and remanded. The NLRA protects employees' right to engage in union activities, such as wearing union logos, but also protects those employees who choose not to participate in union activities. BellSouth and the CWA violated the LNRA by requiring employees to ear union logos. There was no evidence that a display of the logo successfully conveyed a company message important to its customers. The fact that wearing the logo was subject to collective bargaining did not constitute a special circumstance that makes the requirement legal.

Citation Lee v. NLRB, 393 F.3d 491 (4th Cir., 2005)

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