Social Media in the Spotlight Again
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued another social media decision, finding that a Maryland ambulance company violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
An employee of the ambulance company posted a social media note on her Facebook wall indicating that she had been fired by the company. William Norvell, a current employee of the ambulance company posted a response on social media – that the former co-worker get a lawyer and take the company to court. He also later added that she “could contact the labor board.”
Someone turned over a printed copy of the posts to the ambulance company's HR Director who, after consulting with the COO, decided to terminate Norvell. The NLRB found that the termination violated the NLRA.
One of the basic foundations of employment law is this:
Thou shalt not take adverse action…
Thou shalt not take adverse action against an employee in response to the employee's protected activity.
The law prohibits this. It's called retaliation. You may not punish someone for doing what the law provides he may do.
Applied in this context, the former co-worker had a right to consult a lawyer as well as the right to contact “the labor board,” whether that meant the state Department of Labor or the Regional Office of the NLRB.
If her termination had been for lawful reasons, a lawyer would have told her so. Regardless, she had a right to investigate her legal rights either way.
In turn, Norvell had a right to suggest his former co-worker investigate those rights. Consequently, Norvell was engaging in protected legal activity for which he could not be punished.