Online criticism from your employees? What do you do?
Recently the National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint against Hispanics United of Buffalo after they fired five employees who publicly aired their grievances about Hispanics United’s working conditions. The incident started when an employee stated on their Facebook page that other employees did not do enough to help the nonprofit organization’s clients. This prompted a barrage of comments on Facebook by five other employees who defended their work ethic but also criticized issues within the company. These five employees were subsequently fired, allegedly because their Facebook comments were considered as harassment of the employee who posted the original comment.
The National Labor Relations board believes the dismissed employees were fired unfairly. They contend the Facebook conversation is protected under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act because it involved a conversation among co-workers about their working conditions.
Michael Schmidt, an attorney at Cozen O’Connor in New York City, says that employers should enforce internal policies that prohibit harassment, but he would be concerned about any policy that “chills” the right to air workplace issues with co-workers through social media. This is apparently just the tip of the iceberg as the NLRB has social media cases pending in all its Regions.
So what would you do if your employees had a frank conversation with one another about their workplace grievances on Facebook or another social networking site? Is it fair they can air your company’s dirty laundry provided that it is done amongst co-workers? With job satisfaction at an all time low, can we expect more of this?