Well, it finally happened–a judge has ruled that an employee cannot be fired for Facebook posts. In this case, several employees posted comments about another employee, staffing levels and working conditions. The employee who was the target of the posts complained to management, and within a few days, all five employee posters were fired.
The employees sued, asserting that they were engaged in protected activity under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”), and that their termination was improper. The Judge ruled that Facebook postings were protected activity and that employees have a protected right to discuss amongst themselves matters affecting their employment.
It is important to note that there were no unions involved in this matter. The employees were not members of a union, and it does not appear that any unions were championing this cause.
This case also serves as a reminder that while employees in the private sector do not have free speech rights, non-union employees do have some rights to engage in concerted activities, such as discussing working conditions and pay. These protections do not, however, extend to employees simply complaining about another employee.
We can discuss this case and any concerns that you may have about social media in the workplace at the Friday, September 16 Lunch and Learn, where we will be discussing social media in the hiring process and green building contracts. Please send me an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or give me a call at (402) 397-7300 to reserve your spot.