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Employers can ban off-duty workers from all fraternization [View All]

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Rose Siding Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-30-05 01:41 PM
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Employers can ban off-duty workers from all fraternization
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It is a regular pastime for co-workers to chat during a coffee break, at a union hall, or over a beer about workplace issues, good grilling recipes, and celebrity gossip. Yet a recent ruling by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) allows employers to ban off-duty fraternizing among co-workers, severely weakening the rights of free association and speech, and violating basic standards of privacy for America's workers.

So how did the NLRB decide to weaken fundamental workplace protections? Security firm Guardsmark instituted a rule directing employees not to "fraternize on duty or off duty, date, or become overly friendly with the client's employees or with co-employees." In September 2003, the Service Employees International Union filed unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB against Guardsmark, claiming that the company's work rules inhibited its employees' Section 7 rights.

Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act grants workers the right to "self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizationsand to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection..." While the law allows employers to ban association among co-workers during work hours, Guardsmark's rule was broader in that it applied to the off-duty association of co-workers.
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While there are reasons for employers to ban dating among co-workers (namely to prevent sexual harassment), prohibiting off-duty fraternization is something quite different. Such a ban inevitably chills collective action of any sortbe it on a purely social basis or related to employees discussing whether to form a union or not.

http://www.americanrightsatwork.org/workersrights/eye7_...
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