Social media can get you into a lot of trouble these days – especially where the workplace and social media intersect. You may think that you have the freedom of speech to say what you want when you want to say it on whatever medium you wish, but it might not come without some sort of retaliation from your employer.
In 2011, after the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) complained against an ambulance company who fired a driver that spoke negatively about her bosses on Facebook, employees across the nation realized that being a part of a union wasn’t necessary to contest retaliation for badmouthing their employers. After this, the NLRB got so many inquiries about the rules involving social media that they put together a “Report Concerning Social Media Cases.”
Here are some examples of social media cases in the past:
- Not Supported by the NLRB: An Arizona Sun reporter was fired for his social activity on his Twitter account. He not only tweeted about how bad his copyeditors were, he also posted insensitive statements about homicides in the area. He was warned after the former and fired after the latter. Because there was no concerted activity between him and other coworkers, the NLRB sided with the employer.
- Supported by the NLRB: Two employees began a conversation on their Facebook profiles about their employer’s tax withholding policies. One of the employees made an obscene remark about owing back taxes. The employees were promptly fired for their statements and lack of loyalty. The NLRB sided with the employees in this case, because they were having a conversation that brought up valid criticisms about their employer.
Common theme here? If you’re going to complain about work or your boss, make it a concerted effort – preferably with valid criticisms. Your employer does not have that much control over what you say on social media. If you have experienced workplace retaliation or wrongful termination due to your social media activity, you could benefit from getting legal help and exploring the details of your situation.
Have you gotten in trouble for posting something about your boss or a coworker online? You may be protected. Contact Alan Burton Newman, PLC for more information about your case.
Read more about the free speech rights of employees in the LA Times.