Over the last few years, the National Labor Relations Board has continuously expanded Section 7's reach, a section which generally protects speech about working conditions, such as pay and hours. First, the NLRB stretched Section 7 to cover overly-broad social media policies, which often contain anti-disparagement language. And while "no badmouthing the boss or company on Twitter" may seem reasonable, the NLRB held that the broad language could discourage protected Section 7 speech.
In January, the NLRB struck again, but this time at a different topic: workplace gossip. Free speech may have no place in the workplace, but speech about working conditions does, and policies that broadly prohibit backbiting and gossip will be struck down on that accord. The trend continued this month, with the NLRB striking down an employee-authored policy, the Values and Standards of Behavior Policy at Hills and Dales General Hospital.