We have written in the past about the rights employers have when it comes to negative social media posts by employees.
All private employers must respect their workers’ right to “protected concerted activity” — in other words, the right to talk among themselves about their working conditions. This right is not limited to union workers; it applies for all private employees.
In a recent case involving a Connecticut sports bar – Triple Play Sports Bar and Grille – two of their employees used social media to comment on an action by their employer. One of the employees posted a Facebook post angrily accusing Triple Play of mismanaging payroll taxes. A second employee “Liked” the post. Both were fired by the company.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) heard the case and ruled that the dismissals were unlawful because the employees were engaged in protected work related discussions. On appeal, the Court of Appeals agreed that the terminations were wrong. The Court of Appeals wrote that firing these two employees as Triple Play had done “could lead to the undesirable result of chilling virtually all employee speech online…”
So do employers have any protection against unwarranted and unfair public comments by employees?
Google believes they should and has just updated their Google My Business review guidelines to address what they consider to be conflicts of interest.
According to Google’s new guidelines, posting negative reviews about a current or former employer will now be considered a conflict of interest. In the past, this prohibition applied only to current employees.
What’s more, now that these reviews are deemed a conflict of interest by Google, employers can request to have them removed.
With social media, employers are facing new and complicated challenges that can lead to significant legal difficulties. If you need guidance navigating these waters, the partners at Kainen, Escalera & McHale can help. We are very carefully following developments in the law on these matters and would be pleased to help you if you have questions. Please contact us if we can help you.
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