NLRB issues notable ruling on worker speech

| Aug 17, 2020 | Employee Rights

Following is a work-linked scenario that might readily resonate with some readers of our employment law blog posts at the national Devadoss Law Firm.

Imagine that you are a federal worker in an agency department that unquestionably features a tense and volatile on-the-job environment. Perhaps select supervisors are routinely threatening, leaving you and others to believe that job firings or demotions are inevitable. Maybe it’s the case that one singled-out demographic – e.g., disabled employees, pregnant workers, members of the LGBTQ community or comparatively older workers – is being treated with manifest contempt or derision.

The bottom line: It would be apparent to any reasonable person that your workplace is an unhealthy environment, marked by management misconduct, discrimination and harassment.

Sadly, the above-described conditions spell reality more than they do hypothetical work conditions for some federal employees across the United States. Workers sometimes adopt a fatalistic attitude concerning toxic employment environments and simply endure them. In other cases, they proactively react.

That latter response often results in employees banding together to formally protest adverse workplace conditions through organizing activities such as walk-outs or strikes.

And, as noted in a recent Bloomberg article on workers who publicly spotlight unhealthy job environments, response sometimes ensues through public media outlets such as television and social networking sites on the Internet.

Here’s a question related to that: How far can an aggrieved worker go in his or her comments condemning management behavior? Is there a legal limit surrounding uttered remarks that directly address company conduct and/or conditions that need to change?

Indeed, there is, and relevant standards concerning it have reportedly changed via a recently issued National Labor Relations Board ruling. We will take a look at that decision in our next blog post.

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