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Facebook 'Likes' Protected Under the NLRA   September 14, 2014 8:00:00 PM EDT

The Case

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has ruled that clicking Facebook's Like button can be protected activity under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

Former disgruntled employees in Watertown, Connecticut publicized their displeasure with Triple Play Sports Bar and Grille on Facebook, on their individual profiles. Several existing employees and customers saw this message and empathized, clicking the "Like" button and adding personal anecdotes.

Triple Play Sports Bar and Grille has a social media policy that prohibits inappropriate discussion about the company. So, upon learning about the Facebook conversation, Triple Play dismissed two current employees who had "Liked" and posted comments commiserating.

The NLRB found this dismissal to be a violation of the NLRA.

Congress enacted the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA") in 1935 to protect the rights of employees and employers, to encourage collective bargaining, and to curtail certain private sector labor and management practices, which can harm the general welfare of workers, businesses and the U.S. economy.

Section 7 of the NLRA provides employees the right to self-organization.

Sec. 7. [A. 157.] Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, 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 except to the extent that such right may be affected by an agreement requiring membership in a labor organization as a condition of employment as authorized in section 8(a)(3) [section 158(a)(3) of this title].

The two employees were mutually aiding and organizing in a public space. Additionally, the NLRB ruled Triple Play Sports Bar and Grille's social media policy in violation of the NLRA.

Takeaways

It's important to review social media policies. Ensure they are not in violation of existing regulations. And even though forums are changing, and technology has modified the way people gather, employees still have the right to use the new tools to ensure fair practices. Most importantly, treat your employees well. They are your most valuable assets and should be your greatest allies.


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