A National Labor Relations Board Administrative Judge has
found that a Buffalo nonprofit unlawfully discharged employees after they posted
Facebook comments about working conditions including work load and
here for NLRB site announcement. Following a co-worker's
comments on Facebook criticising other employees for not doing enough to help
the nonprofit's clients, the other employees responded by defending their job
performance and criticizing working conditions, work load and staffing. The
nonprofit terminated the employment of five responding employees claiming that
their comments were harassment of the original posting employee.
The ALJ issued his September 2 Decision, holding
that the employees' facebook discussion was protected activity within the
meaning of Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, because it involved a
conversation among co-workers about their terms and conditions of employment,
including their job performance and staffing levels, and that the employees did
not engage in any conduct that forfeited their protections under the Act.
The ALJ ordered the nonprofit to reinstate the employees and awarded them
backpay for unlawfully discharged.
The NLRB has been receiving an increasing number of
claims relating to actions and allegations involving social media issues.
See NLRB Office of the General Counsel, Division of Operations-Management,
Memorandum OM 11-74 August 18, 2011. Click
here for NLRB announcement and link to the Memorandum.
Employees who are covered by the National Labor Relations
Act have certain rights to join together to improve their wages and
working conditions. Some of the rights apply within the context of a
union or union activities. Some of the rights apply with or without a
union. For example, outside the context of a union, the Act protects the
rights of employees to engage in "protected concerted activity," such as when
two or more employees take action for their mutual aid or protection regarding
terms or conditions of employment. A single employee can also engage in
protected concerted activity when he or she is acting on the authority or at
the request of other employees such as presenting group complaints to the
employer, or promoting or preparing for group action. A couple of
examples of non-union related concerted activities: employees speaking about
pay or addressing that issue with their employer; and employees discussing non-pay
work related issues such as workplace conditions or safety, or addressing those
issues with their employer.
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