NLRB decides it now covers retaliation in harassment cases — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

NLRB decides it now covers retaliation in harassment cases

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Here’s another reason to guard against retaliation following a sexual harassment complaint: You could be slapped with an unfair labor practices charge for actions that occur after an employee asks co-workers to help gather evidence of harassment.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in August found that an employee who asked co-workers to provide evidence of sexual harassment had engaged in “concerted activities” for “mutual aid or protection” that are protected by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

Until now, harassment retaliation has been under the purview of the EEOC. Now the NLRB is joining the fight, and employers should beware. This ruling could pave the way for the NLRB to insert itself in enforcement of dozens of state and federal laws already handled by other agencies.

The case—Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market, Inc.—involved a note an employee wrote on a break room white board. Someone substituted a “t” for the “p” in “tips.”

The woman who wrote the original note on the board was offended and got several co-workers—some reluctantly—to sign a statement confirming the alteration.

An employee relations manager then told the woman to stop collecting statements, although she was free to ask co-workers to be witnesses for her. The woman was never disciplined (the man who altered the board was) or threatened with discipline.

The employee relations manager assured the woman in writing that she would be protected against retaliation.

She filed an NLRA complaint anyway. The NLRB ruled that, despite following almost exactly the EEOC’s anti-harassment guidance, the employer had violated the NLRA.

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