A ruling this week from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) makes clear that employers need to have thorough, yet narrowly tailored work rules and policies in place to protect themselves. In the case of Cadillac of Naperville, Inc., the Board found the employer guilty of violating the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) when it terminated an employee – ironically, the shop steward – for calling the owner a derogatory term. In the Board’s decision, it found that derogatory language was common in the employer’s workplace and in the absence of a specific policy spelling out the prohibition on derogatory language, the employer could not terminate the employee for insubordination because of the use of the derogatory language. Furthermore, the incident occurred during one of several negotiating sessions seeking to end a strike by the unionized workers. Ultimately, the NLRB found that the employer’s termination of the employee was directly related to a protected activity (union negotiations) and therefore was illegal. The decision makes clear that employers are well advised to have their policies regularly reviewed by counsel and that creating, maintaining and consistently enforcing work rules and policies may protect them in the end.