I’ve been following closely, and reporting on, the recent uptick in activity being taken by the National Labor Relations Board in pursuing complaints related to employee terminations due to social media use. All of the previous articles, including thebreaking news story I wrote regarding a BMW dealership who fired an employee due to Facebook posts, were only complaints that the NLRB were pursuing, but no decisions had been made by a judge. All of the similar previous cases had been settled so no precedents existed.
That’s all changed now.
In a press release from the NLRB dated Sept, 7, 2011, it reported that an Administrative Law Judge has ruled in favor of the five plaintiffs who were discharged by their employer over Facebook posts in which they complained about their employer and co-worker stating that the posts were “protected concerted activity.” In the ruling, the judge ordered the company to immediately reinstate all five employees and back pay all five workers – in full – with interest compounded daily, including compensation for all lost benefits.
These employees were “domestic violence advocates.” The average salary for this position is $41,000 according to SimplyHired.com. Using that figure, the employer had to pay just short of $188,000 not including interest and lost benefits, which easily equates to over $200,000.
As I reported, there are many similar cases still pending, including the one involving the BMW dealership.
This ruling is precedent setting and will with no doubt effect the other pending cases as well as any future complaints.
It is now more important than ever that your dealership immediately institute an appropriate social media policy that is specific and that excludes protected activities or review the one you already have to insure compliance with the suggestions made by the NLRB in their earlier issued report.
(Originally published September 14, 2011 on Dealer magazine)