Employer Ordered to Reinstate Employees Fired over Facebook Posts

October 17, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – Hispanics United of Buffalo (HUB) has been ordered to reinstate five employees who were terminated after posting complaints about their work on Facebook. 

According to Business and Legal Reports (BLR), Administrative Law Judge Arthur Amchan found the terminations violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLBA).  The exchange was protected concerted activity under the NLRA because it was a discussion among co-workers regarding terms and conditions of employment, including their job performance, and staffing levels. The fact that the workers “were not trying to change their working conditions and . . . did not communicate their concerns” to HUB was irrelevant, the judge ruled. BLR said the judge noted “whether the comments and actions of the five terminated employees took place on Facebook or ‘around the water cooler’ the result would be the same.”

The initial case involved an employee who posted on her Facebook page a co-workers 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.  

After Hispanics United learned of the posts, it fired the five employees on grounds that their comments constituted harassment of the employee originally mentioned in the post. The National Labor Relations Board stepped in to help the workers (see NLRB Steps In Again over Firing for Facebook Posts).