Company Defending NLRB Complaint For Terminating Employee Based On Facebook Post Settles

A Union employee posted a negative comment about her supervisor on her own Facebook page, using her own home computer to do so. Co-workers responded to the comment supportively, which led to further negative comments from the employee herself. When the company learned of the comments, it fired the employee, stating that the postings violated the company’s internet policies. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) investigated the incident, and, in a groundbreaking move, determined that the Facebook postings were “concerted activity,” protected by federal law. The National Labor Relations Act, enforced by the NLRB, restricts employers’ attempts to interfere when employees work together to improve the terms and conditions of their workplace, and the NLRB argued that restricting an employee’s personal use of Facebook and the Internet to communicate with co-workers outside of work was a violation of the law. The NLRB announced on February 7, 2011 that it had reached a voluntary settlement with the employer, prior to a hearing on the complaint.