Facebook and the Law: The NLRB Got It Right

by Evil HR Lady on February 10, 2011

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a press release about the much talked about Facebook Case.

Here are my thoughts at Facebook and the Law: The NLRB Got It Right

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

dbkliv February 10, 2011 at 12:56 pm
Suzanne Lucas February 10, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Thank you! I fixed it.

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fposte February 10, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Huh. Looks like something's going on with that NLRB press release–your link to it is dead now, and while it comes up in a search, clicking on it won't get to a document. I'm guessing it may be the same as http://www.nlrb.gov/news/settlement-reached-case-involving-discharge-facebook-comments

Is it?

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Mike C. February 10, 2011 at 2:47 pm

"The argument is not significant. Itjust clarified that online speech is like outloud speech."

@EHRL How can you say that this decision isn't significant? Do you realize how many companies out there have rules banning employees from discussing workplace conditions (including salaries) despite what the law says?

Back in my days of helping my grandfather work as a janitor, I can't tell you how many times I saw little signs reminding employees that discussing salary information outside of work would be considered grounds for immediate termination. Today that's translated into draconian policies where some employers will fire people for simply identifying where they work, let alone what it's like.

Maybe there's simply a disconnect here – you know and follow the law, and most of my previous experience has been with small companies that don't have the experience or morals to follow the laws. So when the NLRB has a ruling like this I can point to my bosses and say, "See, this is bad policy" while you can say, "Well duh, this is how it's always been".

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fposte February 10, 2011 at 6:54 pm

Mike, do you think a company that's not convinced by the law would be convinced by the settlement? Or is it just that the PR value of something like this makes them aware that there's law, a fact that they'd otherwise make a point of not exploring? To me this is merely reaffirmation of existing law, so I wouldn't see a company that's knowingly breaching the law caring much.

But I do read the decision slightly differently than EHRL. From what I've been reading, the employee's union status isn't actually relevant to the board's judgment on the Facebook posting aspect–it would be considered a breach to fire a non-union employee who was attempting to organize via Facebook same as by phone or in person, basically. Again, that's not necessarily making a new point, just elaborating that new technology is included under the old law.

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Mike C. February 10, 2011 at 11:09 pm

@fposte

I would lean towards the latter. Obviously a company that is acting maliciously won't stop until it becomes too costly not to.

As I ponder this issue a bit more, I think it's most important for employees to hear this. In reading the comments at various sites when this story broke, many posters couldn't fathom the idea of speaking ill of employer. Many employees simply don't understand the rights they do and do not have (and I'm sure the HR professionals that read this can attest to this!). It's not as though reading and interpreting federal law is a trivial exercise after all.

I certainly didn't catch this argument and I consider myself somewhat versed in the NLRA.

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