Banning Ex-Employees May Violate Federal Law

In a recent decision, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that a Nevada hotel & casino violated federal law by banning a former employee from its nightclub.  The employee, who was employed by the hotel for less than one month as a beverage supervisor, resigned in 2012. In June 2013, she teamed up with another hotel employee and filed a wage and hour class action lawsuit against the hotel.

About a year later, the hotel denied the former employee access to an event at its nightclub. The ban was contrary to the hotel’s long-standing practice of allowing former employees to patronize its nightclub and social events. The hotel followed up with a letter to the former employee’s attorney stating that she was being banned “in light of the on-going litigation.”

The NLRB found that the hotel’s actions violated federal law in that they were retaliatory and could lead other employees to believe that they might be subject to reprisals for participating in a work-related lawsuit or other protected activity.

Hospitality establishments may be tempted to ban disgruntled former employees from accessing their property. The employee may have left on bad terms, and there is always a fear that the disgruntled employee could “poison the well” and instigate other employees to sue. But if the establishment regularly allows former employees to patronize its facilities (as most do), they cannot ban certain employees simply because they have sued or threatened to sue. Of course, if the former employee is engaging in unlawful misconduct or disrupting operations while on property, the establishment can apply uniformly-enforced rules for safety and the continuity of operations, which may include a temporary or permanent ban of the former employee.

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