By Edwin S. Hopson
On May 18, 2011, the National Labor Relations Board announced that its Regional Director inBuffalo,New Yorkhad issued a complaint alleging that a non-profit entity–Hispanics United ofBuffalo–that provides social services to low-income persons, has unlawfully fired five employees for criticizing working conditions, including work load and staffing issues, on Facebook.
One employee, in advance of a meeting with management to discuss her working conditions, posted on Facebook her coworker’s claim that employees were not doing enough to help Hispanics United ofBuffalo’s clients. Her initial post reportedly prompted responses from other employees who defended their job performance and criticized working conditions, including work load and staffing issues. Hispanics United discharged the five employees claiming that their comments constituted harassment of the employee originally mentioned in the post.
The NLRB Regional Director claims that the Facebook discussion was protected concerted activity within the meaning of Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, since it is claimed that it involved a conversation among coworkers about their terms and conditions of employment. A hearing on the complaint is set before NLRB Administrative Law Judge on June 22, 2011, in Buffalo.