Employers continue to face challenges from employees’ use of online forums to voice criticisms – even using vulgar language – as seen by a recent National Labor Relations Board decision.
The owners of Triple Play Sports Bar terminated two employees for participating in a Facebook discussion with a former employee. The discussion involved claims that the employees unexpectedly owed state income taxes. This tax issue had come up at work and was the subject of ongoing discussions between Triple Play employees and management.
The former employee posted the following status update on her Facebook page:
Maybe someone should do the owners of Triple Play a favor and buy it from them. They can’t even do the tax paperwork correctly!!! Now I OWE money…Wtf!!
A number of people posted comments including current Triple Play employees and customers. One of the current employees “liked” this status update and another posted “I owe too. Such an a—hole.” Triple Play terminated both employees for violating the company’s Internet/Blogging Policy.
The company’s Internet/Blogging Policy included the following:
The Company supports the free exchange of information and supports camaraderie among its employees. However, when internet blogging, chat room discussions, e-mail, text messages, or other forms of communication extend to employees revealing confidential and proprietary information about the Company, or engaging in inappropriate discussions about the company, management, and/or co-workers, the employee may be violating the law and is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.
The NLRB found that policy violated the National Labor Relations Act because it tended to “chill employees in the exercise of their Section 7 rights.” Section 7 of the Act gives employees the right to engage in concerted activity for purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid and protection.
As part of the Order, the Board required Triple Play to offer both employees their jobs back.
For questions about Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act or other Labor & Employment matters, please contact Natalie K. Ditmars.