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1st Circuit Backs Worker|On Confidentiality Deal

(CN) - A temporary employment agency in Rhode Island violated federal labor law by making employees sign a confidentiality agreement that was too broad, the 1st Circuit ruled.

Northeastern Land Services fired Jamison Dupuy for violating its confidentiality agreement. He talked to one of Northeastern's clients about his problems getting paid in full by the company.

The administrative law judge ruled that Northeastern was correct in firing Dupuy, due to the competitive bidding process in the temporary employment industry.

But the National Labor Relations Board reversed the decision, agreeing with Dupuy that the rule was overbroad and that his firing was unlawful. The board ordered Dupuy reinstated and compensated for lost earnings.

Judge Lynch of the Boston-based federal appeals court agreed with the NLRB.

"A more narrowly drafted provision would be sufficient to accomplish Northeastern's goal in maintaining confidentiality in bidding for clients," Lynch ruled.

Northeastern also challenged the ruling based on the fact that the board's decision was made by only two members. In a case of first impression in the circuit, Lynch again ruled in the board's favor.

Lynch cited a case from the 9th Circuit, Photo-Sonics Inc. v. NLRB (1982), stating that a two-member panel of the board had the authority to make decisions.

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