Magazine article HRMagazine

Workplace Gossip: What Crosses the Line?

Magazine article HRMagazine

Workplace Gossip: What Crosses the Line?

Article excerpt

Human nature being what it is, there's probably no way to elimi- nate gossip from the workplace. But what HR can do is draw a clear line as to what's acceptable and what's not.

A recent National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling addressing workplace gossip policies should prompt employers to do just that. A judge struck down what she called an "overly broad" policy at Laurus Technical Institute near Atlanta, saying it violated the National Labor Relations Act. The institute had fired an employee who had discussed an Equal Employment Opportu- nity Commission complaint she had filed alleging sexual harass- ment and manager retaliation.

The school's policy banned talking about someone's personal or professional life when the person or his or her manager wasn't present. It also prohibited "making negative or disparag- ing comments or criticisms about anyone; creating, and sharing or repeating, a rumor about another person; and discussing work issues or terms and conditions of employment with other employees. …

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