Although most employers would agree that gossip in the workplace is detrimental to employee morale and productivity, banning it could be a risky proposition. In a recent decision, Laurus Technical Institute, NLRB ALJ, No. 10-CA-093934 (Dec. 11, 2013), a National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) Administrative Law Judge ruled that a non-union employer’s “no gossip” policy contained in its employee handbook violated the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”). Despite the fact that the employer’s workforce was not unionized, its “no gossip” policy fell under the purview of the NLRA because it implicated an employee’s right to engage in protected concerted activity by limiting an employee’s ability to discuss the terms and conditions of employment with other employees. While certain types of employee conduct may be regulated in the workplace, the rumor mill may not be one of them.
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