How do we solve the puzzle of maintaining not only a non-hostile work environment but one that embraces workplace civility while not treading on employee rights? I am encouraged by the EEOC's June
from the Select Task Force on the Study of Workplace Harassment. Let me lay the ground work. So we know that under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, plus a patchwork of state and local laws that most employers must provide a non-hostile workplace. That is, a workplace that if free to workplace harassment or discrimination. We also know that over the last several years the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued decisions that make that task more difficult. See the
edition of this newsletter or the
webcast. More recent and egregious examples are described in this
in which the NLRB ruled that directed profanity and exposing private body parts was protected activity in the National Labor Relations Act!
In the EEOC's June report they twice mention reaching out to the NLRB. "In light of the concerns we have heard,
we recommend that EEOC and NLRB confer and consult in a good faith effort to determine what conflicts may exist, and as necessary, work together to harmonize the interplay of federal EEO laws and the NLRA...Finally, we recognize that broad workplace "civility codes" which may be read to limit or restrict certain forms of speech may raise issues under the NLRA, which is outside of the jurisdiction of EEOC. In light of that potential tension, we recommend that EEOC and NLRB confer and consult, and attempt to jointly clarify and harmonize the interplay of the NLRA and the federal EEO statutes."