Do Company-Sponsored Disaster Relief Fund-Raisers Violate a No-Solicitation Policy?

Following the terrorist attacks on September 11th, some employers sponsored fund-raising activities in support of the World Trade Center victims, or at least permitted their employees to engage in such fund-raising efforts. Most non-union employers institute strict no-solicitation/no-distribution rules due to the National Labor Relations Board’s position that if an employer permits solicitation for charity or other purposes during working time and in working spaces, the employer must also permit unions the same solicitation rights.

However, in a September 28, 2001 Memorandum, the Board’s General Counsel suggested that non-union companies be permitted three charitable fund-raisers per year and still validly prohibit all other solicitations — including those by union organizers. Although the General Counsel’s Memorandum is not binding law, it is important since the General Counsel is the “prosecutor” when a union files a charge against an employer.

Under current circumstances, it would seem that both the Board and unions would be hard pressed to take action against an employer engaged in disaster relief fund-raising.