Adapted from HRmorning.com
The National Labor Relations Board has done it again — clarified its position on protected social media usage based on cases it’s handled over the past several months. Lafe Solomon, NLRB Acting General Counsel, offers some guidance regarding what is and is not prohibited in employers’ social media use policies. This guidance applies to both union and non-union companies, so don’t push this aside thinking it doesn’t involve you. When it comes to the umbrella of “protected concerted activity,” all employees are covered. Here are several quick case-by-case examples of what is considered to be “protected activity,” per the NLRB.
- Employee had a dispute about her job performance with her executive director and posted it on Facebook. She got feedback from her co-workers.
- EMT was asked by her supervisor to respond to a customer complaint and was denied a request for union representation. She posted negative comments about her supervisor on Facebook and received responses from her co-workers.
- Car salesman posted on Facebook photos and criticism of food offered by dealership at sales event, saying that food was too chintzy for their clientele and would adversely affect sales commissions. Co-workers commented on their agreement.
- Multiple restaurant employees posted comments on Facebook about employer’s allegedly improper tax withholding practices, and one employee called employer a bad name.
The common theme in each of these protected cases is that co-workers of the original complainant(s) commented with more than what was deemed to be “just an individual gripe.” As for the cases that were not protected, the NLRB found the comments to be on an individual basis and not “seeking to prepare for group action.” In other words, if an employee vents about work via social media and does not seek to involve other co-workers, it is not protected activity and employers may fire them for their inappropriate comments about their workplace.
Moral of the story? Only fire employees who gripe about your company who are not Facebook friends with any of their coworkers. Or call your ESG Human Resources Consultant before firing any employee to make sure you’re making the right decision and not setting yourself up for a hefty employment lawsuit.
[Read the rest of this article...]