Social media has become the preferred method for many to air their grievances. It’s not surprising Texas employees are increasingly relying on social media when they organize in support of establishing more favorable work conditions. At the same time, many employees have been fired for posting on social media. This has created uncertainty regarding which social media posts are protected and which may be cited as a valid basis for an employee’s termination.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is a federally created organization that protects employees’ right to organize. Historically, the NLRB was mostly involved in traditional organized labor movements involving employees’ rights to either join or not join a labor union. However, the NLRB’s protections have expanded over time. Most notably, the NLRB’s protections extend to any activity that is both “protected” and “concerted.”
Texas employees have the right to raise issues involving labor conditions on social media. This includes sharing information and openly discussing matters involving pay, benefits, or any other working conditions. To be protected, a social media post must pertain to protected, concerted activity.
An activity is “concerted” if it involves more than one employee’s concerns, although “personal gripes” of an employee are not protected. Of course, posts made by groups of employees will satisfy this requirement. However, an individual employee’s statements can also be considered a concerted activity. For example, if an employee posts on Facebook complaining of how his or her specific annual evaluation was conducted, the NLRB may determine the post was not a concerted activity because it pertained only to the employee’s own assessment. On the other hand, if the same employee posts about the unfairness of the employer’s annual review process in general, after having spoken to other employees about their evaluations, the post may be considered a concerted activity.
Even if an employee’s social media post is determined to be a concerted activity, it may not be protected if it is malicious or otherwise crosses the line into reckless behavior. For example, social media posts may not be protected if they divulge an employer’s trade secrets, make threats of violence, or make statements known to be false or misleading. Similarly, a post may not be protected if it talks negatively about an employer’s product or service if there is no connection between the complaint and a legitimate labor issue or concern.
Have You Been Fired for Speaking Out on Social Media?
If you have recently been fired or demoted based on your social media posts, contact the law firm of Rob Wiley, P.C. Your employer may have based their actions on activity protected under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Our dedicated Texas employment lawyers work tirelessly to ensure our clients are treated with dignity and respect. To learn more about how we can help you, call (214) 528-6500 to schedule a consultation.