The National Labor Relations Board has recently taken on an aggressive role regarding social media and has been encouraging employees – union and non union – to file unfair labor practice charges related to discipline resulting from social media activities.
Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) states “Employees have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection…” Put simply, it protects an employee’s right to engage with other employees acting together to improve pay, benefits, hours, and working conditions.
The NLRB has been ruling in employee’s favor on a number of social media cases based on Section 7 of the NLRA.
In Hispanics United of Buffalo , five employees were found to be unlawfully discharged because of their responses to a fellow employee’s Facebook post who was scheduled to meet with management complaining about the work performance of the five employees. The employer terminated the five for violating the company harassment and bullying policies. The NLRB, however, ordered that the five be reinstated because their responses to the Facebook posts were “a conversation among co-workers about their terms and conditions of employment, including their job performances and staffing levels.”
There really isn’t anything new here regarding the NLRB’s application of “protected concerted activities.” The NLRB is just applying the policy to the new technology of social media and how employee’s communicate.