A National Labor Relations Board judge has ruled in favor of a Chicago-area BMW car dealership that terminated an employee for Facebook posts. This is the NLRB’s first ruling in a case that involves a firing due to content posted on Facebook.
The judge’s September 28 ruling stated that two separate incidents led to salesman Robert Becker’s termination from the car dealership in June.
In one Facebook post, Becker mocked his employer for the fact that during a dealership event, clients received only cookies, chips and an “overcooked wiener and stale bun.” The judge ruled this post as a protected activity, since it could have a negative effect upon Becker’s compensation.
The second Facebook incident occurred when Becker posted pictures and comments about a car accident at the dealership next door, owned by the same company, where a 13-yr-old was allowed to sit in the driver’s seat of a car, stepped on the gas, and drove the car into a pond. The judge concluded that this action was unprotected. “It was posted by Becker, apparently, as a lark, without any discussion with any other employee of the respondent, and had no connection to any of the employee’s terms and conditions of employment,” the judge said.
The lawyer for the car dealership said that this ruling is confusing. The judge made a ruling on two Facebook postings, but said one is a concerted activity and the other is not.
“I don’t think it gives any direction to an employer as to how they go about disciplining an employee or not” based upon a social media posting, he said.
For more on this topic, please see this article from Workforce.