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Can you land in trouble for trying to stop harassment? Yes

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

You know what they say about good intentions. As the following case shows, if your anti-harassment efforts are seen as an attempt to squash a union-organizing bid, you could be slapped with an unfair labor practice charge.

The National Labor Relations Act does hand employees many freedoms during organizing efforts. But you still have the right to lay out your case of why employees should not want a union. And you don't have to tolerate organizers' harassing and abusive tactics.

One way to prevent on-the-job union organizing harassment: Adopt a legal solicitation policy that prohibits all solicitation of nonwork literature at the workplace.

Recent case: After a union organizer met with a manufacturing plant's employees, company officials gave a speech to employees expressing their opinions about unionization. At the end of the speech, employees were asked to report if they were "threatened or harassed about signing a union card."

The union filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), claiming the company illegally encouraged employees to tell management about their co-workers' union activities.

The NLRB ruled in favor of the union, and a federal court agreed. Reason: The employer's speech had nothing to do with the kind of harassment for which an employer might be liable under discrimination laws. Instead, it focused on encouraging workers to report union solicitation. (Bloomington-Normal Seating Co. v. NLRB, Nos. 03-2929, 03-3101, 7th Cir., 2004)

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