Protected concerted activity is powerful stuff
Like it or not, to a person, we can agree that the rulings flowing from the National Labor Relations Board over the past several years have been largely employee-friendly.
This is especially true with cases involving employee speech on social media. Generally, when two or more employees take to Facebook and talk smack about the workplace, there ain’t much you can do about it without violating the National Labor Relations Act. That’s because Section 7 of the Act protects the rights of most employees — union and non-union — to discuss working conditions with one another.
A local union — yes, a union — finds out the hard way
With a wry smile — #hatersgoingtohate — I read with interest (we lawyers always read “with interest”) how labor unions too can violate Section 7 of the Act by retaliating against employees who are critical of them on social media.
This recent Administrative Law Judge opinion describes a situation in which a union member disagreed with his local union’s decision to play favorites with a city councilman running for mayor. The union member voiced his criticism on Facebook. And, his union allegedly responded by blackballing him from getting any more work. So, the union member filed an unfair labor practice charge against his union.
And, guess what? Unions engaging in social media shenanigans bleed the same blood as their employer counterparts:
I find that Mantell’s Facebook posts were protected. First of all, issuing a journeyman’s book to someone allegedly ineligible to receive one, affected Mantell in that one more journeyman would arguably impact his opportunities for employment….I conclude that removal of Mr. Mantell from the hiring hall’s out-of-work list interferes with the employer-employee relationship and thus violates Section 8(b)(1)(A). By removing him from its out-of-work list, the Union deprived Mantell of employment opportunities and deprived prospective employers of his services.
So, have yourself a little chuckle. But, use this example as a reminder of the many protections that your employees have when discussing work with one another on social media.
Originally published on Employer Handbook Blog.