NLRB Permits Illinois Striker to Grab Crotch in Direction of Female Non-Union Co-Worker

An Illinois telephone company suspended a worker after he grabbed his crotch in a move obviously intended for a female non-union employee to see. According to the company, the female employee was upset by the incident, and the act was a form of sexual harassment, an implied threat of violence, and an indicator of future behavior by the striker.

The NLRB Administrative Judge said that while the gesture was obscene and likely did occur as the female had reported, it was an isolated incident and did not constitute sexual harassment that would justify suspending the striker. The judge opined, “while his gesture was totally uncalled for, and very unpleasant, it is difficult to see how it could have been perceived as an implied threat of violence or even future misconduct (whatever that means) for have discouraged [the female] from continuing to report to work during the strike.