Monday, May 23, 2011

Technology, Law, and the Workplace: Week in Review

This week, the National Labor Relations Board once again waded into the controversial waters of social media. Earlier this week, the Regional Director in Buffalo, New York issued a complaint against a nonprofit employer for its discharge of five employees based on statements made by the employees on Facebook. According to the NLRB's press release:
The case involves an employee who, in advance of a meeting with management about working conditions, posted to her Facebook page a coworker’s allegation that employees did not do enough to help the organization’s clients. The initial post generated responses from other employees who defended their job performance and criticized working conditions, including work load and staffing issues. After learning of the posts, Hispanics United discharged the five employees who participated, claiming that their comments constituted harassment of the employee originally mentioned in the post.
This latest "Facebook firing" case provides yet another example—as if employers needed one more—of the broad stance being taken by many Regional Offices of the NLRB. Under this view, any online discussions regarding work conditions are protected activity under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act. Whether the National Labor Relations Board, and ultimately the courts, will adopt this approach is another matter. However, the message for employers today remains the same: be sure to think carefully before taking action against an employee for that employee's online discussions about work conditions.

Technology in the Workplace
Technology and the Law More Generally
Technology in the News
  • Internet Filters Set Off Protests Around Turkey (NY Times)
  • In This Sky, the Planes Fly Alone (NY Times)
  • Facebook, Foe of Anonymity, Is Forced to Explain a Secret (NY Times)
  • New Ways to Exploit Raw Data May Bring Surge of Innovation, a Study Says (NY Times)
  • Speaking Up in Class, Silently, Using Social Media (NY Times)
  • With Chromebook, the forecast looks increasingly cloudy (American Public Media)

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