Complaint targets Quicken Loans' employee free speech rules

AP News
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Posted: Sep 28, 2015 8:10 AM

DETROIT (AP) — Mortgage giant Quicken Loans overly restricts employees' free speech and should rewrite its rules for workers and educate employees about their rights, according to a National Labor Relations Board complaint.

The complaint is scheduled to go to before a federal administrative law judge Nov. 2, the Detroit Free Press reported (http://on.freep.com/1KZVEBo ).

Detroit-based Quicken denies that its work rules spelled out in an employee handbook known as the Big Book are overly restrictive. The company is fighting the complaint and Quicken spokesman Aaron Emerson said the complaint is "completely absurd."

"Quicken Loans stands firmly behind its common-sense employment policies ... Quicken Loans will fight this baseless case and strongly believes justice will prevail," he said.

The handbook cautions employees against speaking to media and restricts conduct Quicken deems damaging to its interests.

The complaint filed in July said the rules violate the National Labor Relations Act, which permits workers to discuss pay and other policies for organizing for collective bargaining. Rather than seeking monetary damages, the NLRB wants the company's rules changed.

Marick Masters, a professor and director of labor studies at Wayne State University, said the NLRB generally allows companies to protect their trade secrets but not to bar employees from discussing more routine matters such as their salaries or wage levels.

"Their tendency is to take a pretty dim view of policies that are over-broad," Masters said. "If you tell an employee that they can't complain to other employees about their working conditions, you're going to get in trouble for that. If you tell an employee that they can't talk to people on the outside about their working conditions, you're going to get in trouble for that."

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Information from: Detroit Free Press, http://www.freep.com