Employer in Trouble over Facebook Posting

January 10, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – A suburban Pittsburgh bar is facing a lawsuit over comments on the owner’s Facebook page.

According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the North Park Clubhouse Lounge operates under a 2007 consent decree with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that aims to prevent sexual harassment. In the new lawsuit, employee Audra Harris says threatening comments on tavern owner Deborah Maggio’s Facebook page were aimed at her after she filed a complaint with human resources against a manager in late September for uttering a sexual slur against her.   

Harris resigned the next day, and charges the Facebook postings were retaliation for her complaint. Harris said she was advised against going to the EEOC when she complained to the tavern’s human relations director.  

The comment from Maggio on her Facebook page said: “Why do people think and believe it is OK to lie and hurt people that have never hurt or lied to them!” Although she was never mentioned by name, Harris thinks other employees’ reactions — one suggesting that such individuals “should burn in hell” — were directed at her.  

The lawsuit seeks sanctions against the tavern for failure to comply with terms of its 2007 agreement. The Tribune-Review said the previous case stemmed from allegations that a tavern manager forcibly removed an employee’s halter top, exposing her breasts during a golf outing. Court records show the tavern owners agreed to the consent decree and paid the woman $150,000 to settle the suit.  

While news reports have shown that Facebook postings can cause problems for employees (see Waitress Fired for Complaining on Facebook), Harris’ complaint shows employers have to be careful of Facebook postings too. In November, the National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint against an employer for firing a worker over comments on her Facebook page (see NLRB Files Complaint for Employee Fired for Facebook Postings).