In a case that is becoming newsworthy, the NLRB is advancing the cause of a woman who was fired from her job for making negative comments about her boss on Facebook.
NPR broke this story on November 9, 2010. Their article provides a thorough explanation of the facts. Essentially, the employee “criticized her supervisor on her personal Facebook page and then traded Facebook messages about the negative comments with other employees.” She was then fired.
Section 7 of the NLRA provides in relevant part:
“Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organization, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection, and shall also have the right to refrain from any or all of such activities * * *.” (29 USC § 157).
This section protects even non-union employees and even if their speech is not designed to organize a union. It need only be about “mutual aid or protection.”
One problem for this employer is that it had a policy which prohibited discussing the company on the internet. Of course, this policy is illegal since it would prohibit even protected speech. It might be less clear if the speech in this particular instance was protected. Stay tuned…