Facebook Firing? Employer in Hot Water? Stop Me If You Have Heard This Before

By Eric B. Meyer

Yesterday, I gave my social media in the workplace spiel to a great crowd in Hershey, Pennsylvania, at the Banyan Consulting 12th Annual Conference.

Not surprisingly, the majority of questions posed involved the attention that the National Labor Relations Board has paid to social-media-related employee discipline. And that reminded me that a case I discussed earlier this week, the one involving overly-broad handbooks policies that restricted employee discussions of wages, had a second component worth discussing; namely, an unlawful Facebook firing.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

The trouble with the NLRB and Facebook posts

Employees upset with their bosses — in this case, four of them — start complaining to each other and then take to Facebook to vent even further. The posts included employee comments like:

  • “I’m physically and mentally sickened.
  • It’s pretty obvious that my manager is as immature as a person can be…”
  • Hey dudes it’s totally cool, tomorrow I’m bringing a California Worker’s Rights book to work.”

Guess what happened next? The company learns about the posts and three of the employees get fired. And, by now, y’all know the drill.

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Employees can complain about work on social media

A complaint gets filed with the NLRB, an Administrative Law Judge holds a hearing, the employer comes up with some facacta excuse for firing the employees that, it claims, has nothing to do with the Facebook posts — when, in fact, it has everything to do with the posts (according to the ALJ findings), and the company gets spanked.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, the National Labor Relations Board is unwavering that employees have the right to complain about work with one another using social media. Discipline an employee for doing so, and you too can end up on this blog. Small consolation.

This was originally published on Eric B. Meyer’s blog, The Employer Handbook.

You know that scientist in the action movie who has all the right answers if only the government would just pay attention? Eric B. Meyer, Esq. gets companies HR-compliant before the action sequence. Serving clients nationwide, Eric is a Partner at FisherBroyles, LLP, which is the largest full-service, cloud-based law firm in the world, with approximately 210 attorneys in 21 offices nationwide. Eric is also a volunteer EEOC mediator, a paid private mediator, and publisher of The Employer Handbook (www.TheEmployerHandbook.com), which is pretty much the best employment law blog ever. That, and he's been quoted in the British tabloids. #Bucketlist.

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