NLRB Strikes Healthcare Facility Conduct Rules

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has provided clear signals that the unique, patient-centric environments of general hospital and medical centers—and even surgical services and perianesthesia departments—will not justify any departure from its sweeping decisions striking policies, procedures, and codes of conduct under Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). An employer violates Section 8(a)(1) of the NLRA if it maintains work rules that tend to chill employees’ exercise of their Section 7 right to engage in protected, concerted activity. Even if a rule does not explicitly restrict protected activities, it will violate Section 8(a)(1) if an employee would reasonably construe the rule to prohibit Section 7 activity.

Relying on this provision, on April 13, 2016, in William Beaumont Hospital (363 NLRB No. 162), the NLRB found William Beaumont Hospital’s Code of Conduct for Surgical Services and Perianesthesia unlawful under Section 8(a)(1) to the extent it prohibited:

—conduct that “impedes harmonious interactions and relationships”;
—-“[v]erbal comments or physical gestures directed at others that exceed the bounds of fair criticism”;
—-“[n]egative or disparaging comments about the moral character or professional capabilities of an employee or physician made to employees, physicians, patients, or visitors”; and
—-“behavior that is disruptive to maintaining a safe and healing environment or that is counter to promoting teamwork.”

These are great examples of how to not construct sentences that might be considered “overly broad”.

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