Well, the toxic coworker you dread dealing with now has every right to act like a jerk. No really, it's the law.
You know the one, manipulative, yells a lot, angry, backstabber, creates drama, takes credit for your work, cooks fish in the microwave. Maybe they call you stupid, or are a straight up bully. The one who makes your 9 to 5 unbearable, and if they would just leave, please just go bother different people at a new job, things would improve by five million percent.
But they won't leave. And now they're going to be harder to force out. Turns out you may have to deal with that miserable soul for a lot longer, since the National Labor Relations Board just ruled that your toxic co-workers have a right to be unhappy and unpleasant at work, even though their behavior may affect you or the company.
According to the NLRB, employers basically can’t force a good attitude upon you or your coworkers, so the toxic person will probably remain that way. A complaint by the Communication Workers of America—a union comprised of workers in the telecommunications industry—was filed over a paragraph in T-Mobile’s employee handbook.
Here it is:
“Employees are expected to maintain a positive work environment by communicating in a manner that is conducive to effective working relationships with internal and external customers, clients, co-workers, and management.”
The workers claimed this could be restrictive on personalities, because people are going to naturally argue at work. The NLRB agreed, saying workers need to express themselves, even if it’s in a not so nice way.
“We find that employees would reasonably construe the rule to restrict potentially controversial or contentious communications and discussions,” the ruling reads, “out of fear that the Respondent (T-Mobile) would deem them to be inconsistent with a ‘positive work environment.'”
To sum it up, the group is basically saying you can’t expect employees to walk around with a smile plastered on their face all day. But you really don’t have be a jerk, either.
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