John Brown got called in to his HR Manager's office and asked about his recent posts on Facebook. A co-worker was fired and John suggested she sue their employer. The company said John's comments were damaging to the company, violated their social media policy, and he was being terminated - immediately.
John filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board. He said his speech rights were violated.
Here's how the courts ruled on John's 'free speech on Facebook' case:
The NLRB overturned the termination and ruled John's discharge violated the National Labor Relations Act - which protects employees' ability to talk about work conditions in a concerted (i.e., group) manner because:
- the Facebook exchange was concerted and conducted for mutual aid or protection of workers, and
- the company's social media policy was illegal.
The NLRB said the company's social media policy was too broad. It said the language prohibiting employees from making social media posts that would damage the company's image was too restrictive and could "chill" employees' protected ability to talk about work conditions.
Analysis: NLRB wants you to let employees talk
The NLRB can overturn terminations by both union and non-union employers, making rulings like this real game-changers for companies' social media policies.
While no employer wants to see their workers trash talking the company or talking about filing a lawsuit, those types of conversations are often protected by law - at least in the eyes of the current NLRB. So it's wise to consider revising policies that restrict those kinds of discussions.
Information provided by: HR Morning