In Triple Play Sports Bar & Grille, 361 NLRB No. 31 (2014), the National Labor Relations Board found fault in an employer’s actions in response to employees’ discussion on Facebook regarding the employer. Some of the bar and restaurant employees had found they owed more state income taxes than expected and blamed the tax records of their employer. One employee posted a status update to her Facebook page complaining about the owners of the bar and restaurant. Some of the employees commented on or liked the status update. They were fired.
The NLRB stepped in and found that the bar and restaurant wrongfully terminated its employees, whose activities were protected under the National Labor Relations Act. Because the discussion took place on an individual personal page, rather than a company page, the Board concluded it was not directed at the public, which would negate the speech’s protection under the Act. The Board went on to find the employee handbook policy on internet was overly broad and chilled employees’ exercise of rights under the Act. The policy subjected employees to discipline, including termination, for “engaging in inappropriate discussions about the company, management, and/or co-workers.”
These employees were not union. Although the Board is usually focused on labor union issues, the NLRA applies to most private sector employers and employees. The law does not cover government workers, agricultural laborers, independent contractors, or most supervisors.Photo Copyright: ninamalyna / 123RF Stock Photo