Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ho-hum … another NLRB social media complaint?

The National Labor Relations Board is divided into 52 regional offices. This week, the Chicago Regional Office became the third to issue a complaint challenging an employer’s discipline of an employee for statements made using social media. This complaint joins the one issued by the New York Regional Office last week and the one issued by the Hartford Regional Office last year. At this rate, the NLRB will soon have the country blanketed.

The details come via the NLRB’s press release:

The National Labor Relations Board issued a complaint last Friday against Knauz BMW, a Chicago area BMW dealership, alleging unlawful termination of an employee for posting photos and comments on Facebook that were critical of the dealership.

The employee, a car salesman, and coworkers were unhappy with the quality of food and beverages at a dealership event promoting a new BMW model. Salesmen complained that their sales commissions could suffer as a result. Following the event, the salesman posted photos and commentary on his Facebook page critical that only hot dogs and bottled water were being offered to customers.  Other employees had access to the Facebook page.

The following week, the dealership’s management asked the salesman to remove the posts, and he immediately complied. Nevertheless, shortly after a meeting with managers on June 16, the employee was terminated for posting the images and comments.

While we can only speculate, it certainly seems like Washington has directed the regions to complaint these cases in an effort to find the right case to issue a sweeping decision regulating workplace social media. For now, the best course of action for employers is to make sure that their labor and employment counsel is vetting any discipline or termination involving social media to avoid ending up in the NLRB’s crosshairs.

For more on these issues, I suggest you read the thoughts of my fellow bloggers:

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