NLRB Overturns Firing Based on Facebook Post
Federal Law Protects Employee Concerted Activities on Social Media
In 2012, a former employee of Butler Medical Transport, in Maryland, posted on Facebook about the circumstances of her termination, contesting it was unfair. One of her former colleagues, who was still employed by Butler, responded. He wrote: “Sorry to hear that but if you want you may think about getting a lawyer and taking them to court.” He later added, “You could contact the labor board too.” This social media exchange by a current and a former employee got the attention of Butler’s management.
Social Media Posts Protected if Purpose is “Mutual Aid and Protection”
The employer discharged the employee for violating its social media policy prohibiting posts discrediting the employer or damaging its reputation. However, the NLRB ruled that the employee’s post advising his former co-employee how to challenge her discharge was protected under the National Labor Relations Act and ordered the employee who made the post be reinstated with backpay. The labor board found that the employee made the Facebook post “for the purpose of mutual aid and protection” because it was part of an online conversation triggered by an employee’s complaint about unjust discharge. The Board ruled that being dismissed unfairly is a potential concern for all employees, who as a group have a common interest in job security, and a post about it cannot be the basis for discharge. Butler Medical Transport, LLC. (July 27, 2017).
Questions About Your Rights Under the National Labor Relations Act
If you have questions about social media, Facebook postings or any discipline or threatened discipline due to something you have publicly posted about your employer, Hawks Quindel’s attorneys can review the facts of your case and provide you with guidance whether you have engaged in activity protected under state or federal law. Contact us today to discuss your right to concerted activity in the workplace.
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