With numerous recent rulings the by National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) supporting the right of employees to discuss the terms and conditions of their employment on Facebook and other social media sites, employers have been increasingly cautioned about taking actions against employees for their social media activity because, when multiple employees are involved, the activity can be protected under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
However, in a decision on 10/28/14 involving the Richmond District Neighborhood Center, the NLRB found that comments made by employees were not protected by the NLRA due to threats of insubordination. The comments contained obscenity-laced plans for activities including having parties without permission, teaching kids how to graffiti up the walls, going on field trips whenever they wanted, and other comments including plans to “raise hell.”
After reviewing screenshots of employee Facebook conversations, management at the Center withdrew the rehire letters of employees.
In reviewing this case, the NLRB stated:
“We find the pervasive advocacy of insubordination in the Facebook posts, comprised of numerous detailed descriptions of specific insubordinate acts, constituted conduct objectively so egregious as to lose the Act’s protection and render Callaghan and Moore unfit for further service . . . The magnitude and detail of insubordinate acts advocated in the posts reasonably gave the Respondent concern that Callaghan and Moore would act on their plans, a risk a reasonable employer would refuse to take. The Respondent was not obliged to wait for the employees to follow through on the misconduct they advocated.”
Employers are still cautioned to consider disciplinary actions carefully when it comes to employees’ comments about the workplace on social media, but this case does show that egregious acts or plans for such behavior in the workplace can lead to employees losing protection under the NLRA.
Follow this link to the NLRB website for the complete decision and information on the case — http://www.nlrb.gov/case/20-CA-091748.