Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Last-Minute Settlement Nixes NLRB's Facebook Case

Labor and employment lawyers on both sides of the aisle, along with their respective clientele, were eagerly awaiting some much-needed guidance in the so-called "Facebook case" filed by the National Labor Relations Board against a Connecticut employer.  You remember the case.

An ambulance service employee was discharged after posting derogatory remarks about her supervisor on her Facebook page.  The NLRB took umbrage at the firing, saying that the disgruntled employee and her co-workers who later posted several equally negative comments -- in football, that's called "piling on" -- were engaged in protected concerted activity.  Yeah, that case.

In the end, the parties reached an 11th-hour settlement that left watchers all dressed up with no place to go.  According to the NLRB's announcement (click here), the company will revise its "overly-broad" rules so as to ensure that employees are not improperly restricted in discussions regarding wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment.

So what about everyone who was hoping for some insight into the Board's views on employer social media policies?  Take heart; all is not lost!  Mere days ago, on February 4, a Connecticut affiliate of the Service Employees International Union filed an unfair labor practice charge in which the only allegation is that another employer maintained a social media policy that the union contends is too broad.  How the NLRB treats this case may signal how it will approach social media policies in the foreseeable future.

We'll keep an eye on this one and let you know things develop.

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