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: Alaska

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Employers with workplaces open to the public or that seek to advise employees that smoking is prohibited in enclosed/indoor workplaces areas should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook to communicate the employer's Smoke-Free Workplace policy to employees.

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

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Employers seeking to demonstrate compliance with Alaska texting while driving law and promote driving safety should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook to communicate the employer's Cell Phone Use/Texting While Driving policy to employees.

  • Standards of Conduct Handbook Statement

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Employers seeking to establish standards of behavior, set expectations and reiterate the at-will employment policy should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.

  • Workplace Violence Handbook Statement

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Employers seeking to communicate to employees that workplace violence is unacceptable and will not be tolerated should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.

  • Weapons in the Workplace Handbook Statement

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Employers seeking to make clear to employees that possession of firearms and other weapons in the workplace is strictly prohibited and to help prevent workplace violence should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.

  • Smoke-Free Workplace Handbook Statement

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Employers seeking 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.

  • Drug-Free Workplace Handbook Statement

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Employers seeking to adopt a policy prohibiting the use, sale, possession, etc. of drugs and/or alcohol should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.

  • Cell Phone Use / Texting While Driving Handbook Statement

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Employers with employees who drive for work-related purposes, use a company-issued electronic device while driving or who are likely to use a personal device for work-related reasons while driving should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.

  • No Solicitation / Distribution of Literature Handbook Statement

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Employers seeking to inform employees about the circumstances under which solicitation and/or distribution of written materials is prohibited should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.

  • Sexual and Other Unlawful Harassment Handbook Statement [15-19 employees]

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Employers with 15 or more employees for each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding year that seek to prohibit harassment and inform employees about the appropriate channels for complaints should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook to communicate the employer's Sexual and Other Unlawful Harassment policy to employees.

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.