Facebook Firing III -- NLRB Strikes Twice in May!
Yesterday, we reported that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) took enforcement action on May 9, 2011 against against Hispanics United of Buffalo, a nonprofit organization that provides social services to low income clients, for firing employees over Facebook comments.
The NLRB announced today that it took yet another "Facebook firing" enforcement action on May 20, 2011. In this latest action, the NLRB alleged that a Chicago area BMW dealership fired an employee for posting critical photos and comments on Facebook.
The car salesman and coworkers were concerned about the quality of food and beverages at a dealership event promoting a new BMW model. The salesmen complained that their sales commissions could suffer as a result. Following the event, one salesman posted photos and commentary on his Facebook page criticizing the employer for serving only hot dogs and bottled water to customers at the event. Other employees had access to the Facebook page.
The following week, the dealership’s management asked the salesman to remove the posts, and he immediately complied. Nevertheless, shortly after a meeting with managers, the employee was terminated for posting the images and comments on Facebook.
The NLRB alleged that the employee’s Facebook posting was protected concerted activity within the meaning of Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, because it involved a discussion among employees about their terms and conditions of employment, and did not lose protection based on the nature of the comments.
The case is scheduled to be heard by an administrative law judge on July 21, 2011 in the Chicago Regional office of the NLRB.
The NLRB's third enforcement action makes a strong statement about the agency's view on the scope of employee social media protections, including the discussion topics the agency views as protected. The action item for employers is to carefully review and, as appropriate, revise their social media and employee conduct policies to ensure consistency with the NLRB guidance.