Ruling sides with employers on social media firing protocol, but issue far from over


By Mike Sunnucks

Phoenix Business Journal

Workers’ Facebook and Twitter posts about their jobs do not enjoy blanket protections under federal laws that safeguard communications relating to union organizing.

However, there is plenty of gray area when it comes to what kind of social media posts can get an employee or manager in trouble, and what is protected under New Deal-era laws that prevent workers from getting fired for talking about their jobs.

How the courts and administrative boards handle social media posts and whether they enjoy federal labor protections will impact scores of businesses policies and could spark lawsuits if workers are fired or disciplined for what they say on Twitter, Facebook or other social networks.

A new ruling by the National Labor Relations Board sided with employers, one that allowed a Chicago-area car dealer to fire one of its employees for comments made on social media.

“The decision reinforces what we’ve all suspected — that not all postings are going to be protected by law. When an employee acts alone on a lark in posting information, the laws protecting collective action don’t apply,” said Chris Mason, a partner with the law offices of Polsinelli Shughart PC in Phoenix. “This decision gives employers a slight sense of relief that they can take action against improper use of social media, at least in the right circumstances.”


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