The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has ruled that an employee's emails and Facebook postings were protected under the National Labor Relations Act (Act) even though they were directed at employees of a different company. N.Y. Party Shuttle, LLC, +2013 NLRB LEXIS 312 (N.L.R.B. May 2, 2013). In light of this ruling, union and non-union employers alike should proceed with caution when disciplining employees for discussing union organizing or terms and conditions of employment, even when such discussions involve employees from another company.
The NLRB found that the non-unionized employer unlawfully terminated the employee when it refused to give him new assignments after complaining in emails and on Facebook about his work conditions and the need for union organization. While the employee previously emailed the company's other employees about work conditions, the benefits of unionization and his plans to approach the NLRB, the particular activity that ultimately led to his termination involved communications to employees from other companies.
The NLRB held that the email and the Facebook postings constituted protected activity even though they were directed at employees of another company because they were "an obvious continuation of [the employee's] prior organization activity, activity which was known to [the employer]." Based on its determination, the NLRB ordered the employee to be reinstated and awarded back pay.
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