Fired Because Of Facebook: The (Very Few) Cases Where It’s Illegal
Five employees who were fired because of comments made on Facebook were recently ordered back to work with back pay by a federal organization. Their case illustrates the growing issue of Facebook and social media at work, and highlights the very narrow line between what can (legally) get you fired and what can’t.
According to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the group that handles labor disputes and safeguards employee rights, “a conversation among co-workers about their terms and conditions of employment” is protected under the National Labor Relations Act. And administrative law Judge Arthur Amchan found that the employees’ online comments about issues with their employer and workloads fit that standard.
Due to an increase in social media-related issues, the NLRB issued updated standards on what is and isn’t protected online. Basically, only a “concerted activity” to improve working conditions is cool; sustained, civil efforts from a whole group are more likely to be protected. If you’re set on being the Cesar Chavez of the Digital Age, at least the government will be behind you.
On the other hand, individual, one-time whining won’t look so good in court—and you don’t want to take risks with your job and end up in court anyway. Being rude, stupid, or abusive on Facebook can still (and probably always will) get you sacked perfectly legally, as we learned from this poor girl back in 2009: