Updated August 28, 8:05am EST*
Late last year, Tara Zoumer sued coworking brand WeWork for unfair labor practices. Following Zoumer’s complaint, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found merit to charge WeWork for violating Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act. Zoumer’s case against WeWork was set to go to trial September 7th of this year, however a source with knowledge of the situation stated that “the case has been transferred to the National Labor Relations Board who will determine whether WeWork’s agreements violate the National Labor Relations Acts.”
However, Zoumer is not the only one to have pressed charges against WeWork for unfair labor practices. In June this year, another WeWork ex-employee, Rachel Wynn, filed a similar charge against the coworking brand and its co-employer, TriNet in New York for maintaining unlawful and overly-broad provisions in the Employer’s Handbook. (This charge, however, was withdrawn in July.)
Additionally, Local 153 OPEIU, a member of the AFL-CIO family of unions, filed charges against WeWork June 28th of this year for WeWork’s unlawful practice of forcing its employees to sign unconscionable Non-Compete agreements.
On this last case (Local 153), Region 2 of the NLRB has found WeWork and TriNet (co-employers to WeWork employees) have violated the National Labor Relations Act. According to a Local 153 representative, the following WeWork rules were found to be unlawful by the Region:
- WeWork condition of SVC – INNA
- WeWork No Conflicting Activities – INNA
- WeWork Conflict of Interest
- WeWork Outside Activities
- WeWork Do the Right Thing
- WeWork Electronic Communication
As for TriNet, the Region found a provision in the revised TriNet Standards of Performance and Conduct section unlawful. The Region also found the mandatory arbitration agreement unlawful. Furthermore, the NLRB will issue a complaint against TriNet for mandatory arbitration class action waivers. This complaint against TriNet will have repercussions outside of WeWork employees, “as it is possible that they may be forced to rescind mandatory arbitration class action waivers for all 325,000 employees that they have nationwide.”
According to Local 153’s representative,
“The NLRB will try to settle this matter with Trinet and WeWork. The settlement will certainly include the following requirements:
- WeWork will have to rescind the unlawful rules contained in their personnel handbook. Additionally, The Company will have to post (on bulletin boards and intranet) to all employees nationwide for sixty days an official notice that they are rescinding these unlawful handbook rules.
- Trinet, WeWorks co-employer, will also have to rescind their unlawful mandatory arbitration class action waiver. Trinet will also be required to post a formal notice to their employees.
If WeWork and Trinet refuse to settle this matter then Region 2 will file a complaint against Trinet and WeWork and an administrative trial will be scheduled.”
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The flexible workspace industry is one that focuses and cherishes the importance of having open and creative communities. The first step towards achieving this is to have happy staff; without a happy staff, it’s very hard to have happy clients, and without clients, well, you’d be short on community. Even with all the turmoil surrounding WeWork and former employees, the coworking brand still believes its staff is an essential part of their success.
“Our employees are our lifeblood and we firmly believe our policies are both lawful and fair.” -WeWork spokesperson
These charges, however, aren’t the only problem clouding WeWork’s sunshine. Rumor has it that some investors have put a hold on future investment until their numbers improve; this following a leak of documents that stated that WeWork had cut earning predictions from $65 million to $14 million.
More to come as information becomes available.