Fired for Gossiping?

While getting ready for work this morning, I heard a story on GMA about four employees up in New Hampshire that were fired for gossiping about a co-worker while on their lunch break. I guess the reason is that gossip is bad for morale. Is this the end of the "watercooler" as we know it? Did this employer go too far?? I'd probably have to fire half my employees if this is now a new reason for termination...


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  • Here's the link to the story

    I think the employment "expert" was wrong because if the employees were gossiping on their lunch hour, they weren't "on the clock."

    Note that these were public employees, but I see no mention of a union.  Anyone have more info on this?

  • gossip is one thing but were these women spreading rumors they knew were false?
  • I would say there doesn't seem to be quite enough here to determine whether the firings were justified or not.  Naturally, the individuals who were terminated are downplaying it by saying it was idle chatter. But if it was a more organized effort than that--to hurt someone's reputation or career--then that's another story.  I wonder if all the facts will come out or if we'll all be left to wonder if they were victims or not...

     But I'd have to agree with Countrygal's original comment--that simply repeating what you've "heard"/gossiping is something that nearly all of us have been guilty of at one point or another!  Except, of course, for those of us in HR [;)]


  • good ponint, regdunlop...i think that i did hear that they were fired because the rumors they were spreading ended up being false, and they were about a relationship between a manager and another employee, and the manager made a complaint.

  • Apparently these women were discussing the topic in a tone loud enough that it could be heard by others.  If more were said about the subjects under discussion than what has been indicated in the article then there might be cause for reprimand. 

     I agree that we have to know more about the situation.  Second guessing never helped anyone.

  • On GMA this morning, they read some of the e-mails received on this story and the majority supported the firing of the women. Sounds like people are tired of malicious workplace gossip--those women should have stuck to discussing Idol or Dancing with the Stars.
  • I have to agree that particularly vicious gossip is detrimental to morale, production and the general atmosphere at work. I for one, am tired of idle gossip (or any other kind of gossip). Don't people have better things to talk about . . .?!!
  • Not only that, but if gossip is directed at a particular group, it could be seen as harassment or create a hostile work environment...
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