An Administrative Law Judge for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has taken up the board's position that comments on Facebook and other social media sites can in many cases be considered "protected concerted activity."  In a recent ruling, Judge Arthur Amchan ordered Hispanics United of Buffalo (HUB) to restore the jobs of five employees fired for critical comments on Facebook, the first time a judge has so ruled.

After an employee at HUB complained that other employees weren't doing enough to help the non-profit's clients, someone who overheard the comment wrote on Facebook: "[Co-worker's name] feels that we don't help our clients enough at HUB I about had it! My fellow coworkers how do u feel?" What followed was a barrage of defensive comments that also included criticism about working conditions at HUB.

The co-worker then went to her supervisor to report what had happened, and the supervisor met with the five Facebook commenters and terminated them for harassing the employee who made the original comment.

The judge ruled: "Employees have a protected right to discuss matters affecting their employment amongst themselves. Explicit or implicit criticism by a co-worker of the manner in which they are performing their jobs is a subject about which employee discussion is protected by Section 7 [the protected concerted clause in the National Labor Relations Act]."

This was the first time an issue regarding protected concerted activity on a social media site has reached a judge, but the NLRB has been forcing companies into settlements over the issue, beginning with a case involving American Medical Response (AMR) in Connecticut earlier this year.

The NLRB has also recently mandated that an NLRA Employee Rights Poster be displayed in almost every business in America. You can get your NLRA poster today from Personnel Concepts online.