NLRB Orders Hospital to Reinstate Former Employee Who Shared Staffing Concerns With Media

December 17, 2018

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has held an employer violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) when it terminated an employee for writing a letter to the editor of a local newspaper regarding her concerns with employee dissatisfaction and nurse staffing levels at the hospital she worked for. The same day that her letter to the editor was printed in the newspaper, the hospital discharged her for violating its media policy, which barred employees from speaking to the press without permission. Employee subsequently filed an unfair labor practice charge with the NLRB, alleging that the hospital terminated her employment for engaging in protected concerted activity under the NLRA. The NLRB ruled in favor of Employee, finding that, because her letter to the editor complaining about staffing levels constituted protected concerted activity, the hospital had violated the NLRA: "health care facility employees engage in concerted activity protected by the NLRA when they use a letter to the editor or another 3rd-party channel to protest deficiencies in staffing levels or other working conditions that have an effect on patient care.” SESCO has a long history of ensuring employers are compliant with the NLRA; as such, if employers have questions about whether policies or practices are compliant with current NLRB rules and case holdings we recommend they contact SESCO.