A recent decision from the National Labor Relations Board addresses an employer’s policy that prohibits employee gossip. The policy stated: “Gossip is not tolerated. Employees that participate in or instigate gossip about the company, an employee, or customer will receive disciplinary action.” The policy described gossip as “an activity that can drain, corrupt, distract and down-shift the company’s productivity, moral, and overall satisfaction.” And, defined prohibited conduct to include: “Talking about a person’s personal life when they are not present [and] Talking about a person’s professional life without his/her supervisor present.”
The NLRB Judge found that the “No Gossip” policy violated Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act because it severely restricts employees from discussing or complaining about any terms and conditions of employment, which is protected activity under the National Labor Relations Act. Laurus Technical Institute, Case No. 10-CA-093934, http://nlrb.gov/case/10-CA-093934
The NLRB decision is a reminder to employers that policies that tend to chill employees in the exercise of their right to talk (and complain) about work-related issues and conditions in the work place, violate employees’ right to engage in concerted activity, and are unlawful.