News & Announcements

NLRB Ends "Unwarranted Protection" of Offensive Speech

Posted Thursday, July 23, 2020 1:00 am

When employees are disciplined or discharged after making abusive or offensive statements – including profane, racist, and sexually unacceptable remarks – in the course of activity otherwise protected under the National Labor Relations Act, the legality of their discipline will be decided under the Wright Line standard.  General Motors LLC, 369 NLRB No. 127 (2020).  Under Wright Line, the General Counsel must first prove the employee's protected activity was a motivating factor in the discipline. The employer must then prove it would have taken the same action even in the absence of the protected activity, for example, by showing consistent discipline of other employees who engaged in similar abusive or offensive conduct.

According to NLRB Chairman John F. Ring, “This is a long-overdue change in the NLRB’s approach to profanity-laced tirades and other abusive conduct in the workplace.”  Chairman Ring added, “For too long, the Board has protected employees who engage in obscene, racist, and sexually harassing speech not tolerated in almost any workplace today. Our decision in General Motors ends this unwarranted protection, eliminates the conflict between the NLRA and antidiscrimination laws, and acknowledges that the expectations for employee conduct in the workplace have changed.”

Feature of the Month:

Updated HR Practices Review

Complete HEC’s newly updated HR Practices Review documents to help ensure your HR policies and procedures are on the right track.

Learn More

Subscribe to Our Training Events Updates

Subscribe to our training events notices to get in early on upcoming events.

Back to top

Email Sign Up


If you are a member, please login below to manage your subscription. Otherwise, click "Continue to Subscribe"


Continue to Subscribe


Fill out the fields below to receive HEC emails.

How did you hear about HEC?

I would like to receive the following:

News & Updates
Training Events Notices