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NOTEBOOK – ONE GOOD READ: Labor board ruling limits protected speech when workers protest


A recent ruling from the National Labor Relations Board could result in more retaliation by employers if workers who speak up about harassment and discrimination in the workplace — but could also give employers relief from abusive behavior, as this article from Bloomberg News details. The new rules for employers come from a sweeping NLRB ruling issued July 21 on the punishment of a Black employee at General Motors Co. who claimed that he was speaking up about discriminatory behavior. “Employers can already legally terminate people for almost any reason, including what they say at work,” according to the article, which was published by Bloomberg’s BNN in Canada. “One of the few exceptions to that rule has been U.S. labor law protections for people protesting unfair workplace conditions. Now, companies have wider legal authority to axe those employees, too.” According to the NLRB, GM had documented the employee on multiple occasions using profane language and threatening his supervisors. The board’s chairman, John Ring, said its ruling will stop the agency from providing cover for inappropriate behavior. “This is a long-overdue change in the NLRB’s approach to profanity-laced tirades and other abusive conduct in the workplace,” Ring said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg. However, worker advocates say the new guidance will just make it easier for companies to punish those who criticize or organize against bigotry at work.

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