Judge Orders Reinstatement of Employees Fired for Facebook Posting

Can you fire an employee for making negative comments about an employer on Facebook? No, according to a National Labor Relations Board Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) in a recent case involving a New York non-profit organization.

An employee from the organization posted a comment about a co-worker.  The initial post generated responses from other employees that were critical of working conditions, including work load and staffing issues.  The organization fired the involved employees, claiming their comments constituted harassment of the employee originally mentioned in the post.

The ALJ ordered the organization to reinstate the former employees and awarded them back pay, finding their Facebook discussion was protected concerted activity entitled to protection under the National Labor Relations Act.

This case is just one in a growing body of decisions that punish employers who terminate employees for social media postings that are critical of the employer, its managers, or any aspect of their working conditions.  Keep in mind, that this ruling applies to all employers, not just those that are unionized.