Companies can face serious legal problems for firing an employee for their social media activity without first determining whether the employee’s speech is protected under federal law. Here’s a recent case:
After an ambulance employee’s supervisor refused to assist her in preparing an incident report, the employee posted on Facebook from her home computer that the supervisor was a “scumbag” because of the refusal. Her Facebook post drew responses from her coworkers, which led to a Facebook discussion with her coworkers about supervisory activities. The employee posted additional negative comments about her supervisor, including some name-calling, but did not make any verbal or physical threats. The employee was suspended, and later fired, for her Facebook posts.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) determined that the ambulance company violated federal law for firing the employee because she had engaged in protected activity by exercising her right to discuss supervisory activities with her coworkers on Facebook. The NLRB reasoned that the comments were made during an online employee discussion of supervisory activities outside of the workplace during non-work hours.
If an employer disciplines or fires an employee for engaging in protected activity, or institutes a workplace rule or policy that would prohibit employees from engaging in such activity, the employer can face serious programs, such as a lawsuit, unfair labor charge, repaying the employees lost wages, and paying their attorneys fees and costs. So this begs the question:
Should You Fire over Facebook?
Many companies have disciplined their employees over their social media posts or instituted policies prohibiting certain online activities. But are these employment practices and policies legal? In my next webinar, I will teach you about important labor and employment law issues in the context of social media in the workplace and how to manage employee social media use.
January 22 | 12:00-1:30 est | $150 Live or OnDemand
1.5 Hours of CLE Credits Approved in Florida and Louisiana
Approval Pending in California, Georgia, South Carolina, and Nevada
Social media law attorney, author, professor, and keynote speaker Ethan Wall will: