NLRB rules it’s your right to be unhappy at work

Vaniman-Megan_160-x-222Want to be unhappy at work? Now grumpy employees have the law on their side.

The Communications Workers of America Local 7011 Union challenged T-Mobile’s employee handbook clause requiring employees to “maintain positive work environment by communicating in a manner that is conducive to effective working relationships…” Federal law gives employees the right to form, join, or assist a union. The Union argued the phrases “maintain a positive work environment” and “communicating in a manner that is conducive to effective working relationships…” was ambiguous and vague and could reasonably chill employees exercise of their right to form a union. The National Labor Board agreed. The Board held the rule could be construed to restrict potentially controversial or contentious communications and discussions out of fear that the employer would find the conversations inconsistent with the required positive work environment. The Board went as far as to say that the rule could prohibit employees from arguing and making detrimental comments about their employer. T-Mobile has appealed the decision.

The decision applies to the National Labor Relations Act however, the act applies to employers regardless of whether their employees are members of unions or not. Remember, while a positive work environment is nice, employers cannot restrict employees right to communicate in a negative manner with coworkers.

If you have any questions regarding how this decision might affect your employee handbook, please contact me at mvaniman@sbhlegal.com.