The NLRB recently considered a dispute involving two employees who had a Facebook rant against their employer. The employer was a teen center providing after school activities for high school students in Northern California. All employees at the teen center were asked to provide the “pros and cons” of working at the center during a year-end meeting. Apparently 8 pros and 23 cons were submitted and perceived as taken personally by management.
Two of the employees went on Facebook to complain about the center’s supervisors and discuss their plans of insubordination. Plans identified online included: refusing to ask for permission before organizing activities; disregarding specific school district rules; undermining leadership; and neglecting their job duties. Specific comments made about these plans were: planning “field trips all the time to wherever the f… we want,” teach the kids how to graffiti up the walls” and “f… it up” in reference to the teen center. The Center was given a screen shot of the conversation and quickly rescinded the offers to re-hire the two employees. The Center asserted its concern for the planned insubordination, which could potentially endanger the teen participants.
The NLRB found that the comments made by the employees were not protected by the NLRA. The NLRA protects the right of employees to act together to try to improve their pay and working conditions. This conversation was held to be “so egregious as to take it outside the protection of the Act, or of such a character as to render the employee[s] unfit for further service.” The magnitude and detailed list of planned insubordination was considered so egregious as to take it outside the law’s protection.