Firing for Bad Attitude- What Does the NLRB Say?

HR Resource
March 17, 2014 — 2,878 views  
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Managers are often heard complaining how their hands are tied and they cannot fire employees when they consistently show bad attitude. But a recent ruling of the National Labor Relations Board is set to change all that.

The decision concerned two employees of Copper River, a restaurant located in Boiling Springs, SC. The restaurant had fired the two employees for showing bad attitude on the job. The employees then approached the NRLB for relief which constituted a three member panel from among the board members. The panel consisted of two Republicans Philip Miscimarra and Harry Johnson and the Board's Chairman, Mark Pearce. The panel ruled in favor of the employer 2-1, with the Chairman dissenting.

The facts behind the case

The employees were contending that the management had fired them because they had tried to organize the workers in the restaurant. But the restaurant said that their efforts to organize the workers had nothing to do with their firing. They were asked to leave because they had violated specific rules. One of them was fired because he had continually failed to comply with company procedure in billing drinks. The second employee was fired because she made derogatory comments about the company, to its customers.

In the case of the second employee, the management received a complaint that her service was slow. A supervisor took her aside and counseled her. She later returned to the bar and berated the restaurant to the customers there in bad language. She also said she did not like the place and called the managers stupid. She expressed disapproval against the restaurant's rule that employees had to cover up their tattoos.

The days of employees getting away with bad attitude seem to be over

When passing judgment, the panel referred to an employee handbook from the restaurant which explicitly said that insubordination to managers or showing a lack of respect and not cooperating with guests or fellow workers was banned. The section also condemned the display of negative attitude which could disrupt other staff members or negatively impact guests.

While the ruling is not a benchmark for such cases in the future, it does say that showing a disrespectful attitude or lack of interest in work can qualify as grounds for sacking. Earlier, it was thought that until an employee maintains a minimum standard of work, the company could not let him or her go. But recent developments show that employees cannot bank on that unwritten rule anymore.

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