A Facebook firing? An employer in hot water? Ya don’t say…

Thumbnail image for facefire.jpg

Yesterday, I gave my social media in the workplace spiel to a great crowd in Hershey, PA, 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. More after the jump…

* * *

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

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. 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.

Updated: