Prohibited Conduct

Editor's Note: Alert employees and supervisors as to what types of workplace conduct is strictly prohibited.

Beth P. ZollerOverview: Employers should make sure that their policies and practices clearly convey to employees and supervisors the type of conduct that is strictly prohibited by the employer.

This may include, but is not limited to: violence/fighting; verbal abuse; theft; possession or use of illegal drugs in the workplace; inappropriate use of the internet, email, voice mail or other forms of electronic communication; sleeping and loafing on the job; gambling at work; workplace bullying; and harassment or employee discrimination.

These types of activities can have a detrimental effect on the employer's business as well as employee productivity and morale. Employers should make sure that employees and supervisors understand the parameters of prohibited conduct and let them know the disciplinary consequences.

The policies regarding prohibited conduct should be clearly defined so employees and supervisors are well aware of the employer's expectations. Further, all employees and supervisors should be instructed to report any prohibited conduct by co-workers or supervisors and bring it to the employer's attention so that corrective measures may be taken.

Trends: While employers have a clear right to manage their workforce and implement workplace rules and policies regarding prohibited conduct, employers should be careful due to recent guidance from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

The NLRB has demonstrated that it is willing to strike down facially neutral employment policies which violate the right of both union and non-union employees to engage in protected concerted activity or collective action to improve workplace conditions under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

For example, the NLRB has invalidated workplace polices that sought to make employee solicitation and social media use at work prohibited conduct because it determined that this may prevent employees from engaging in protected activity.

Thus, employers should narrowly draft policies and use specific examples of protected conduct to show that the employer is not trying to interfere with employee rights, but instead trying to protect the employer's legitimate business interests.

Author: Beth P. Zoller, JD, Legal Editor

Latest items in Prohibited Conduct

  • Smoke-Free Workplace Handbook Statement: Oregon

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Oregon employers with enclosed workplace areas seeking to inform employees that smoking is prohibited in the workplace and to demonstrate compliance with Oregon law should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.

  • How to Conduct an Internal Investigation

    Type:
    How To

    When employers need to investigate claims of harassment, discrimination or other workplace misconduct, the process of conducting an effective internal investigation can be challenging. This step-by-step recitation of the important issues and pitfalls of internal investigations will guide employers through the process, removing the guesswork.

  • Cell Phone Use / Texting While Driving Handbook Statement: Mississippi

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Mississippi employers seeking to show their compliance with Mississippi's prohibition against texting and social networking while driving, to promote driving safety and to limit liability from accidents involving employees who are driving and using electronic devices for work-related purposes or while driving a company-owned vehicle should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.

  • Hawaii to Prohibit E-Cigarettes in the Workplace: Employment Law Manual, Quick Reference Chart Updated

    Date:
    12 May 2015
    Type:
    Editor's Choice

    Under a new law, effective January 1, 2016, Hawaii will prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) in the workplace.

  • Date:
    12 May 2015
    Type:
    Legal Timetable

  • Termination Notice Letter to Employee on FMLA Leave

    Type:
    Policies and Documents

    An employer may use this letter to properly notify an employee out on FMLA leave of the termination of his or her employment.

  • Don't Spill the Beans: Employer's Representative's Statement May Be Admissible to Prove Discriminatory Intent in Decision to Terminate

    Date:
    06 April 2015
    Type:
    Law Reports

    In Makowski v. Smith Amundsen, LLC, No. 10-3330 (7th Cir. 2011), the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals decided whether an employer's representative's statement could be used to prove discrimination in a decision to terminate an employee on FMLA maternity leave.

  • How to Terminate for FMLA Fraud or Abuse

    Type:
    How To

    An employer may want to immediately terminate an employee it believes is abusing or fraudulently taking leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The employer would be wise to follow the steps in this How To before terminating an employee for FMLA fraud or abuse.

  • Insubordination Policy

    Type:
    Policies and Documents

    An employer may use this policy to formalize the disciplinary policy, including disciplinary procedures and work rules, in a written document that may be included in the employee handbook. Weak or inconsistent responses to insubordination lead to poor morale, decreased productivity and low employee retention; just as important, lack of uniformity in the application of disciplinary rules can lead to discrimination lawsuits.

  • Smoke-Free Workplace Handbook Statement: California

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    California employers with one or more employees seeking to comply with state law, to encourage and promote good health and to clearly advise employees of the prohibition against smoking in the workplace should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.

About this topic

HR guidance on ensuring that policies adequately advise employees and supervisors of prohibited workplace conduct and the consequences of engaging in such behavior.