Tesla could have a ruling from a labor board that claimed the automaker violated the rights of factory workers by not allowing them to wear pro-union t-shirts.
On Wednesday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel in New Orleans had lawyers for Tesla and from the NLRB and UAW present to question them about whether the automaker infringed on worker rights to promote the enactment of a union.
Tesla allowed union stickers and other small items, but t-shirts were not allowed because they did not align with the company dress code.
Last August, we reported on the dress code, which is set by Tesla to promote safety and help with quality control. The NLRB voted last year in a vote that finished 3-2 that Tesla was officially in violation of labor rules by upholding the dress code.
The agency said there were no “special circumstances” warranting restrictions on union clothing, which the NLRB said violated the policy.
Judges for the 5th Circuit, however, said that Tesla may not have been required to prove special circumstances because not all pro-union merchandise was prohibited. Workers were allowed to have stickers and other pro-union insignia, Reuters said.
Circuit Judge Jerry Smith asked the NLRB’s lawyer, Micah Jost:
“A sticker says ‘go union,’ ‘union is good’ or whatever. In what way is that an insufficient means of communication?”
Another Circuit Judge, Stephen Higginson, also said that employers are not required to allow all union-related apparel. Tesla didn’t allow t-shirts because of safety reasons, as we previously reported.
Higginson said that Tesla is doing that, and if uniforms are required, the company still must allow employees to express pro-union viewpoints. “The record suggests that they are,” Higginson added.
Michael Kenneally, Tesla’s lawyer from the firm Morgan Lewis & Bockius, said, “There hasn’t been a meaningful infringement on employees’ ability to communicate their support for the union.”
Tesla seems primed to come out on top if the ruling is potentially released.
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