NLRB calls termination for Facebook comment an unfair labor practice
May 23, 2011 - Comments Off
The National Labor Relations Board has declared that the nonprofit Hispanics United of Buffalo violated Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act when it terminated five employees for criticizing its workload and staffing conditions on the social networking website Facebook. In October of 2010 Mariana Cole-Rivera, an employee of Hispanics United, posted on her Facebook page in response to a coworker’s verbal claim that the organization did not do enough to help its clients. Four other employees commented on the post, defending their job performance and criticizing working conditions. Hispanics United terminated all five employees who posted on Facebook, claiming that they were harassing the co-worker originally mentioned in the post. The National Labor Relations Board intervened, saying that the employees comments on Facebook were protected concerted activity under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act as discussions between employees about their working conditions. Hispanics United has been “interfering with, restraining and coercing employees in the exercise of [their] rights,” the NLRB complaint said. This is the first case regarding social media websites before the National Labor Relations Board which does not target the organization’s social media policy itself, and is also the first social media case that involves a nonunionized workplace.