The Real Deal New York

Labor board deems parts of WeWork’s employee handbook “unlawful”

Workers told to ask themselves “how would I feel if it made headlines in news outlets”
By Konrad Putzier | August 26, 2016 02:40PM

WeWork space in Brooklyn Heights (credit: WeWork) and Adam Neumann

WeWork space in Brooklyn Heights (credit: WeWork) and Adam Neumann

UPDATED, Aug. 26, 4:23 p.m.: The National Labor Relations Board has found sections of WeWork’s employee handbook to be unlawful, according to a source familiar with the decision, but has not filed a complaint with an administrative law judge (yet).

The board argues that several provisions within the 22-page handbook are unlawful. One section the board takes issue with is titled “Do the right thing” and tells employees in considering whether an action is inappropriate they should ask themselves “how would I feel if it made headlines in news outlets,” among other things. It also flagged a section titled “outside activities,” which tells employees not to pursue them if they “create a conflict of interest that may interfere with the objective exercise of judgment in the best interest of WeWork TRData LogoTINY.”

“They have an employment issue and that’s something a summer camp can’t fix,” said Seth Goldstein, the attorney who filed the charges against WeWork with the NLRB.

In response, a WeWork spokesperson said, “Our employees are our lifeblood and we firmly believe our policies are both lawful and fair.”

A spokesperson for the NLRB declined to comment. The board has no jurisdictional authority, but can choose to file a complaint with an administrative law judge.

The finding comes as the co-working company faces increased scrutiny over its employment guidelines and contracts. In July, the NLRB filed a complaint over the case of Tara Zoumer, a former WeWork employee in San Francisco, who claims she was fired for refusing to sign an arbitration agreement and forfeit the right to join class-action lawsuits. In that case, the Board argues that the agreement violates U.S. labor laws. Also in July, WeWork sued a former employee for allegedly leaking internal documents to Bloomberg News.

Correction: an earlier version of this article incorrectly claimed that the NLRB files charges with federal courts.