Facebook and the Workplace: Employee Rights and the Law

By Eric W. Tiritilli.

More and more employees use social media, including Facebook, to discuss work – sometimes in fairly unflattering terms.  This has caused stress for employers who want to maintain their good name, but also don’t want to violate the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) by punishing employees who vent their spleen on social media.  Employers’ concerns are well placed. One recent example involves an employer who discharged an employee after he “liked” a negative comment on Facebook concerning an alleged tax withholding issue involving the employer.  The employer was found to have violated the NRLA.

In Three D, LLC, the National Labor Relations Board explained that because the Facebook discussion involved employees “looking toward group action to encourage the employer to address problems in terms or conditions of employment [and] not to disparage its product or services or undermine its reputation, the communications [were] protected.” The employee who “liked” the post was expressing agreement with the post and was protected by the NLRA. The discharge was, therefore, impermissible.

The law in this area is always evolving, but employers should be aware of the requirements and protections of the NLRA when making disciplinary decisions related to employees’ social media activities.

© 2014 Parsonage Vandenack Williams LLC

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