NLRB Meets Gossip Girl

By John Alan Doran

The NLRB recently struck down an employer’s “anti-gossip” policy, ruling that the policy unlawfully interfered with employees’ rights to engage in concerted protected activity under the NLRA.  Laurus Technical Inst., 360 NLRB No. 133 (June 13, 2014). The employer had a seemingly reasonable policy that listed the destructive impacts of gossip, defined gossip to include talking about co-workers’ professional lives and making disparaging comments about others, and establishing punishment for violations.  The NLRB found that the policy was overly broad, vague, and effectively prevented any gossip about anyone.  And that’s a bad thing because?????

This is simply a continuation of the NLRB’s unreasonable invocation of what we lovingly call “the biggest idiot rule.”  The NLRB continues to flyspeck otherwise reasonable policies by viewing those policies through the eyes of a hypothetical buffoon to conclude that the policies somehow chill protected concerted activity when read by a buffoon.  The “biggest idiot rule” continues to undermine workplaces and otherwise defensible workplace policies and practices, and, unfortunately, the “rule” appears to be with us for the indefinite future.