A recent NLRB case stretched the limits of my credulity (and I’ve been pretty stretched out by the Board’s rulings the past couple of years). The case involves a Hooters franchise in California. An employee (we’ll call her Employee A) got in a verbal fight with another employee. Employee A hurled obscenities and got so agitated that the manager called the police. Not surprisingly, the employee was fired. She then brought an unfair labor practice charge to her local NLRB. The judge ordered Hooters to reinstate her with back pay. It also ordered the restaurant to post a sign stating:
“WE WILL NOT maintain or enforce a provision in our Employee Handbook that prohibits employees from being disrespectful to the Company, other employees, customers, partners, and competitors, posting no offensive language or pictures and no negative comments about the Company or coworkers of the Company.” (emphasis added)
So having and enforcing a rule requiring employees to be respectful – not only to one another, but to customers now violates Section 7 rights to engage in “protected, concerted activity”? I’m hoping the ruling is an anomaly. Most employers I know have Codes of Conduct and the like, wherein they set forth behavioral expectations of employees. Requiring respectful behavior should be a no-brainer, not the target of an unfair labor practice charge.
What should you do in response to this recent ruling?
Nothing, yet. Except cross your fingers that it does not stand or spread.