The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), in a unanimous decision, has expanded oral harassment to include smartphone text-based harassment, which board watchers immediately dubbed “textual harassment.”
The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) prohibits spoken harassment, by phone or in person, but when the law was written, there were no cell phones or text messages. In RHCG Safety Corp. and Construction & General Building Laborers, Local 79, the board brought the statute into the 21st century over this text message sent by a supervisor to a worker during a union organizing campaign: “U working for Redhook or u working in the union?”
When the worker, who was not an open union supporter, did not respond, he was subsequently barred from working on company job sites.
“By juxtaposing working for Redhook with working in the Union, [the manager’s] text strongly suggested that the two were incompatible,” the NLRB said in an opinion issued by Republican Acting Chairman Philip Miscimarra and Democrats Mark Gaston Pearce and Lauren McFerran. “The Respondent offers no reason why the Board should provide a safe harbor for coercive employer interrogations via text messages.”