In a move parallel to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and its recent enforcement of Section 7 employee rights, the Buffalo field office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has warned an employer that it is a "flagrant" violation to prohibit employees from discussing among one another claims of harassment leveled by fellow employees.

In a letter to the employer, the EEOC field office maintains that such gag orders not only violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, but also act as a deterrent preventing employees from filing harassment complaints with the EEOC.

The letter says in part:

In this case, telling [redacted] women who complained of harassment that they were not to tell others about the alleged harassment is enough to constitute harm under Title VII. There does not have to be a separate adverse action. In addition, your written policy is so broad that a reasonable employee could conclude from reading it that she could face discipline or charge for making inquiries to the EEOC about harassment if that harassment is being or has been investigated internally by your organization.

The NLRB has similarly been enforcing open "water cooler" discussions by employees whether on work premises or online. In this case, however, the ruling has not yet reached the full EEOC-endorsement level.