Offensive Language

News & Analysis as of

NLRB Judge Orders Reinstatement Of Employee Who Made Racist Taunts Toward African-Americans

The National Labor Relations Board promotes itself as a government agency that “safeguards employees’ rights,” but you would not know it from a recent ruling upholding racist statements made by union supporters on a picket...more

Party Time: Mixing Drinks at the Company Picnic

It’s summer, and time for company softball tournaments, picnics, and outdoor happy hours. These are functions at which employees get a chance to relax with each other, meet each other’s families, and bond over outdoor games...more

Teacher Fired Over Racist Facebook Post

In the age of social media, many people post their opinions on sites, such as Facebook, without carefully considering the possible consequences and resulting backlash. For example, Karen Fitzgibbons, a teacher at the Frenship...more

In Fresenius, the NLRB Admits It Was Wrong . . . Sort Of!

On June 24, 2015, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a new decision involving allegations that an employer had unlawfully discharged an employee who had scrawled sexually-oriented obscenities and threatening...more

Thanks a LOT, Mr. President!

As you know, I strongly disapprove of use of the “N” word in the workplace. I don’t think African-Americans should say it, and I really, really don’t think people who aren’t African-American should use it....more

Labor & Employment E-Note - June 2015

In This Issue: - Debruge and Childs Alabama Law Survey on Employee Privacy Laws Published to Practical Law - "WTF", Under the NLRB, Employers Should "Cut the Crap?" - Tom Brady, Deflategate, and Florida...more

When Bad Things Happen to Good People...On the Internet

The internet has generated countless new ways to communicate and share thinking. Some posted information is negative, which can still be useful when messages are truthful, in good taste, and constructive. But some negative...more

NLRB Rules 'Vulgar' Union Buttons Allowed

In our prior alerts, we notified you of the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) recent decisions clarifying when, in the current board's estimation, an employer violates Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act...more

In re Tam – Federal Circuit Orders En Banc Review of Trademark Act’s Ban Against Registration of Disparaging Marks

The Slants is a Portland-based band composed of musicians of Asian-American descent who characterize their genre as “Chinatown Dance Rock.” The band’s bassist, Simon Tam, filed a trademark application for THE SLANTS for...more

WTF?!

WTF already?! As in, “where’s the fairness?” Time for an acronym update from our favorite government acronym, the NLRB. You will certainly remember that we have recommended asking yourself three questions before determining...more

Fourth Circuit Lowers Bar for Employees in Title VII Retaliation Claims

The case involved an African American cocktail waitress who claimed she was called a “porch monkey” by another employee twice within a 24 hour period. Shortly after reporting the incidents, her employment was terminated. She...more

Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Holds Hostile Work Environment Can Be Created With A Single Racial Epithet

Despite consistent direction from the United States Supreme Court that courts should look at "all the circumstances" in determining whether a workplace environment is sufficiently hostile or abusive to give rise to an...more

Trademarks Can Be a Bitch

And I mean that literally. We’ve laid down a lot of digital ink in the past about pejorative marks – lately in reference to the Redskins and The Slants, both of which have been deemed disparaging enough to deny them a...more

Is Posting Obscenities Aimed At Supervisor On Facebook A Terminable Offense?

Maybe not, according to a recently published NLRB decision. In Pier Sixty LLC, a majority of a three-member NLRB panel affirmed an ALJ’s decision that the employer violated Section 8(a)(1) and (3) of the National Labor...more

To Fire or Not to Fire for Employee’s Social Media Posts

After watching the firing of the digital communications manager for the Houston Rockets during their run through the playoffs (read the story here in the Houston Chronicle).  I figured it would be a good time to revisit the...more

Fenwick Employment Brief - April 2015

Ninth Circuit Reviews Enforceability of Waiver of Right to Reemployment - Does California Business and Professions Code § 16600 prohibit employees from waiving their right to reemployment with prior employers? The...more

NLRB determines vulgar Facebook posts protected concerted activity

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) determined that Pier Sixty LLC, a New York catering service, violated federal labor law by firing an employee server after he posted a Facebook message protesting supervisory abuse...more

Illinois Court Finds Teaching the “N” Word is Not Protected by the First Amendment

Recently, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois addressed whether a teacher could be disciplined for using the word “n*gger” in a sixth grade classroom. In Brown v. Board of Education of the...more

NLRB Holds Employee’s Obscene Facebook Post Criticizing Supervisor is Protected

We have written previously about the expanding scope of social media activities that the National Labor Relations Act protects and the tight limits the NLRB places on an employer’s ability to discipline employees for...more

NLRB Finds Employee’s Extremely Profane Facebook Post was Protected Concerted Activity

The National Labor Relations Board recently demonstrated how far it will go to protect employees in the name of protected concerted activity. In Pier Sixty, LLC, an employee took to Facebook to call his manager a...more

NLRB Rejects Profane Employee Facebook Rant as Grounds for Termination

For decades, the National Labor Relations Board has recognized boundaries on employees’ rights to engage in activity protected under federal labor laws. While employees have been granted leeway to engage in heated or...more

Calling Your Boss a “Nasty Mother F@#$%r” and Other Protected Activities

If an employee lashes out against a supervisor on social media with a string of obscenities, you can fire that employee, right? You would think so, but not always. Context matters....more

A Single "Hitler" Comment Is Insufficient for a Title VII Retaliation Claim in the Fifth Circuit

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed a judgment against a City of Houston employee who claimed that he was demoted for reporting another employee’s racially offensive comment made during a workplace meeting....more

NLRB Says You Can Call Your Boss Obscenities and Not Get Fired

Over the last several months, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued a variety of controversial decisions related to its interpretation of what constitutes protected concerted activity under the National Labor...more

The Employment Law Authority - March/April 2015

In this Issue: - Immigration - State Round-Up - Best Practices - Retaliation - Employment Discrimination - Excerpt from Immigration; Spouses of H-1B visa holders will be eligible for work...more

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