Colone spoke persistently and argumentatively,and made a brusque, impolite statement to an employee who was leaving the meeting that he should “just go ahead and leave” be-cause he wasnot needed; he also, upon Dean refusing to provide him with the paperwork related to the new overtime policy, told Dean that he was not doing his job.
The NLRB said the harsher standard the GOP Board set was erroneous:
The Board has long held, with uniform judicial approval, that causation is not at issue where an employer defends a disciplinary action based on an employee's alleged misconduct in the course of union activity, and the Board determines that the misconduct was not sufficiently egregious to deprive the employee of the protection of the Act. Everyone agrees that the disciplinary action was motivated by conduct that the Board—in fulfilling its statutory responsibility to determine the scope of the Act's protection—has found to be protected. That the employer labeled the conduct abusive, disloyal, uncivil, or insubordinate does not bring its motive into question. Ozburn-Hessey Logistics, LLC, 366 NLRB No. 177, slip op. at 5 (2018), enfd. in relevant part 803 Fed. Appx. 876, 882-883 (6th Cir. 2020); Roemer Industries, Inc., 362 NLRB 828, 834 fn. 15 (2015) (explaining that where an employer defends disciplinary action based on an employee’s misconduct in the course of protected union activity, and the misconduct was not egregious enough to remove the protections of the Act, “the 8(a)(3) violation is established because the antiunion motive is not in dispute--the protected union conduct was the motive for the discipline”), enfd. 688 Fed. Appx. 340 (6th Cir. 2017).
The NLRB cited as an example of conduct that is protected:
A good example is the Eighth Circuit’s picket-line misconduct decision in Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. v. NLRB, 866 F.3d 885 (8th Cir. 2017), a case the General Motors Board simply ignored. In Cooper Tire & Rubber, the court enforced the Board’s order requiring reinstatement of a striker who had directed racist taunts at a van carrying replacement workers that had just crossed the picket line. It agreed with the Board’s application of the Clear Pine Mouldings standard and rejected the employer’s argument that Wright Line should apply. 866 F.3d at 889–890. It also rejected the argument that the Board’s order conflicted with the employer’s duty under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq. Id. at 891- 892. The court explained that the striker’s picket-line jibes—racially offensive, stereotyped comments about food —did not create a hostile work environment, nor did Title VII create any legal obligation to fire the striker. Id. at 892.41 The Eighth Circuit’s decision is not anomalous.
The Supreme Court has said repeatedly that Title VII is not “a general civility code for the American workplace.” As the Court has explained, “offhand comments and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) will not amount to discriminatory changes in the terms and conditions of employment.” There is no obvious or inevitable conflict, then, between the Board’s approach as reflected in the setting-specific standards and Federal antidiscrimination law.I can't tell you how often the "general civility code" language has been thrown at me in sexual and racial harassment cases, so it's good to see the NLRB saying what's good for the goose is good for the gander. You don't want a general civility code? Then you can't claim it when people are protesting or discussing working conditions.