The NLRB Issues a Call for Civility!
Monday, June 18, 2018
Posted by: Alyce Ryan
Written by: Christine V. Walters, JD, MAS, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, FiveL Company
That's right! How many times have we read or heard about the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issuing decisions upholding some pretty egregious conduct on the part of employees in the name of exercising Section 7 rights (click here for a related article)? This time, the NLRB calls out an employee for disrespectful conduct. The employer's "win" in this case, however leaves little of which to be proud. The manager started a staff meeting by telling his team that he did not intend to be anyone's "f---in' babysitter." After the manager subsequently complained about employees' conduct and work performance generally, one employee asked how the manager would know since he didn't do "sh-- around here."
The manager fired the employee after the meeting and the employee filed a claim asserting that his firing violated his Section 7 rights under the NLRA. Not-so-fast, said the court. The employee did not act in concert with any other employee nor was there any evidence that he expressed his view as an advocate for or representing any other employee.
Whew! So, the employer escapes legal liability in this case. But what about the employee relations impact? Public reputation as an employer? Many of you have heard me say, "Forget the law; it's a secondary issue." This is a great example. When managers engage in lawful, but disrespectful, uncivil and/or unprofessional conduct, they create the potential for legal liability for the employer.
Tips: Build the topic of civility into your behavior-based interviewing for managers and supervisors. Engage them in a conversation that illustrates how they walk the talk. Build the topic of civility into your on-boarding/orientation program for all employees, staff and managers. Build the topic of civility into your expectations and hold all employees accountable, particularly managers and supervisors.