People gossip. Whether it's over the back fence, fueled by a couple of drinks or around the relative safety of the company water cooler, it's gonna happen. The best thing to do to prevent the workplace kind is to run your business well. Apparently, the worse thing you can do is to try to prohibit it in writing.

That's the takeaway from a recent National Labor Relations Board decision in Georgia. The head of the Laurus Technical Institute tried to shush everyone up as the school went through a wrenching period of reorganization by issuing a tortured, Draconian "no gossiping" policy.

End result? The gossip went far beyond the water cooler, eventually winding up in protracted litigation and, of course, the news media.

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Dan Cook

Dan Cook is a journalist and communications consultant based in Portland, OR. During his journalism career he has been a reporter and editor for a variety of media companies, including American Lawyer Media, BusinessWeek, Newhouse Newspapers, Knight-Ridder, Time Inc., and Reuters. He specializes in health care and insurance related coverage for BenefitsPRO.