In a batch of recent decisions, the National Labor Relations Board has been moving aggressively to safeguard both "protected concerted activity" among co-workers and online commentary by employees on social media sites. Yesterday (May 18, 2011), the NLRB joined the two initiatives in a complaint filed against Hispanics United of Buffalo after the nonprofit "unlawfully discharged five employees after they took to Facebook to criticize working conditions, including work load and staffing issues."
The NLRB Web site further explains:
The case involves an employee who, in advance of a meeting with management about working conditions, posted to her Facebook page a coworker’s allegation that employees did not do enough to help the organization’s clients. The initial post generated responses from other employees who defended their job performance and criticized working conditions, including work load and staffing issues. After learning of the posts, Hispanics United discharged the five employees who participated, claiming that their comments constituted harassment of the employee originally mentioned in the post.
The complaint alleges that the Facebook discussion was protected concerted activity within the meaning of Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, because it involved a conversation among coworkers about their terms and conditions of employment, including their job performance and staffing levels. Unless the case is settled, the complaint will be the subject of a hearing before an administrative law judge on June 22, 2011, in the Buffalo office of the NLRB.