According to the National Labor Relations Board, implementing a “no gossip policy” that prohibits employees from gossiping about their employer, other employees, or customers, and subsequently firing an employee for violating that policy, is a violation of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Nine months after Laurus Technical Institute implemented a no gossip policy in its employee handbook in an attempt to curb a decrease in workplace productivity, it terminated one employee for unsatisfactory performance, stating that the employee had violated the company’s no gossip policy on numerous occasions. In December 2013, an ALJ held that the for-profit college’s no gossip policy violated Sections 7 and 8(1)(1) of the NLRA because it was overly broad, ambiguous, and severely restrictive as it allowed the discharge of an employee for engaging in protected concerted activity by prohibiting employees to speak to coworkers about terms of employment. While this ruling highlights protection of workers’ rights, it provides little guidance to employers on how to change employee regulations to comply with current law and on how it will rule in future cases.
Laurus Technical Institute, N.L.R.B. No. 10-CA-093934 (December 11, 2013); see Lutheran Heritage Village-Livonia, 343 N.L.R.B. 64620 (2004), (stating that explicitly restricting Section 7 activities is unlawful); see also SNE Enterprises, Inc., 347 N.L.R.B. 472, 492–493 (2006), enfd. 257 Fed. Appx. 642 (4th Cir. 2007) (establishing that an prohibiting employees from speaking to coworkers about discipline or other terms and conditions of employment violates Section 8(1)(a)).
(Development authored by Shauna Agan)