Saturday, November 28, 2015

Facing a firing over Facebook

When an employee badmouths their company on Facebook, is it grounds for dismissal? It depends, is the answer from the National Labor Relations Board.

Facing a firing over Facebook


When an employee badmouths her company on Facebook, is it grounds for dismissal? It depends, is the answer from the National Labor Relations Board.  The cases detailed by the NLRB make fascinating reading.

Here's the NLRB press release web site. Some highlights:

To help provide further guidance, NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon has released a second report describing social media cases reviewed by his office.

The Operations Management Memo covers 14 cases, half of which involve questions about employers' social media policies. Five of those policies were found to be unlawfully broad, while one was lawful and another was found to be lawful after it was revised.

The remaining cases involved employees who were fired because of Facebook comments they had posted. Several firings were found to be unlawful because of the unlawful policies. Even so, one of those five firings was upheld because the employee’s posting was not work-related.

The report underscores two main points made in an earlier compilation of cases:

• Employer policies should not be so sweeping that they prohibit the kinds of activities protected by federal labor law, such as the discussion of wages or working conditions.

• An employee’s comments on social media are generally not protected if they are simply gripes not made in relation to employee group activities.

The Acting General Counsel has asked regional offices to send cases to them as it tries to devise a consistent approach. To date, about 75 cases have been forwarded to the office.

The challenge is that the National Labor Relations Act was written before the existence of social media. Decisions in three cases pending before the board will give further guidance as the law around social media develops. Information on the three cases can be found here, here, and here.

Inquirer Staff Writer
We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

Comment policy: comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Read 0 comments
comments powered by Disqus
About this blog

Jobbing covers the workplace – employment, unemployment, management, unions, legal issues, labor economics, benefits, work-life balance, workforce development, trends and profiles.

Jane M. Von Bergen writes about workplace issues for the Inquirer.

Married to a photographer she met at her college newspaper, Von Bergen has been a reporter since fourth grade, covering education, government, retailing, courts, marketing and business. “I love the specific detail that tells the story,” she says.

Reach Jane M. at

Jane M. Von Bergen Inquirer Staff Writer
Also on
letter icon Newsletter