A National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) administrative law judge ruled recently that the “no-gossip” policy of Laurus Technical Institute, a for-profit technical school located in Georgia, broke federal lawbecause it was overly broad, ambiguous and restricted employees from discussing or complaining about any terms and/or conditions of employment, even though nothing in Laurus’s policy directly addressed discussions about wages, hours or other employment terms and conditions. 

Kate Gold, partner in the Los Angeles office, recently told Human Resource Executive Online during an interview on the topic of the Laurus decision and no-gossip policies for employers, “Though the NLRB has been focused on other policies that could violate an employee’s right to engage in protected concerted activity — such as social media or confidentiality policies — no-gossip policies can be especially problematic”.

Kate went on to say “I would not include it among the top 10 or even the top 20 essential policies an employer should include in a handbook or policy manual, such as an at-will, anti-harassment or reasonable accommodation policy. However, given the type of concern raised by a no-gossip policy, there could be other employer policies that are problematic for the same reasons. The issue raised by an overbroad no-gossip policy is whether it constitutes an unlawful restriction on an employee’s right to engage in protected concerted activity under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act.”

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