The NLRB basically says you have to allow negativity

by Michael Haberman on April 17, 2014 · 0 comments


According to the NLRB negativity is a protected concerted activity.

According to the NLRB negativity is a protected concerted activity.

As I was telling a class the other day the National Labor Relations Board is getting more and more intrusive into non-union companies. Here is an example.

Poor work environment

Many companies have made attempts to improve the work environment when it as devolved into a state where there was a lack of cooperation, fighting among employees, disintegrating customer relationships and customers looking for other places to do business. That was just the case at Hills and Dales General Hospital in Michigan.

As any good HR department and management team would do in that situation they put a policy in place that tried to improve the work environment. They told people they could not engage in negativity and prohibited them from engaging in negative comments about fellow workers and engaging in gossip. The attempt was to try to improve things at the hospital and put the hospital in a better light in the community.

NLRB said you can’t do that

An Administrative Law Judge upheld the NLRB’s General Counsel when the GC told the company they could not have such a policy. The ALJ said:

By maintaining a work rule (par. 11 of its Values and Standards of Behavior policy) that proscribes making “negative comments about our fellow team members,” the Respondent interfered with, restrained and coerced employees in the exercise of rights guaranteed in Section 7 of the Act, and thus violated Section 8(a)(1) of the Act.

By maintaining a work rule (par. 21 of its Values and Standards of Behavior policy) that proscribes engaging in or listening to negativity, the Respondent interfered with, restrained and coerced employees in the exercise of rights guaranteed in Section 7 of the Act, and thus violated Section 8(a)(1) of the Act.

By committing the unfair labor practices stated in Conclusions of Law 1–2 above, the Respondent has engaged in unfair labor practices affecting commerce within the meaning of Section 8(a)(1) and Section 2(6) and (7) of the Act.

The end result of this is that this company could not prohibit negativity in the workplace or negative gossip. The implication is that being nasty and negative is the “God given right” of all employees. I guess we should not expect anything else from someone who works for the government.

If you want to read the entire ruling on this case you can go here.

Thanks to Charlie Plumb of McAfee & Taft for the heads up.

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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