Massachusetts workers who use social networking sites might find themselves facing matters of dispute with their employers. Such an incident recently occurred when employees from a sports bar claimed to have suffered retaliation in the form of wrongful termination for comments they posted on the Internet. The former employees complained to the National Labor Relations Board saying that their work-related speech is protected under the National Labor Relations Act.
The incident began when an employee from Triple Play Sports Bar posted a complaint online, stating that her employer's failure to properly handle payroll resulted in her owing more taxes than she expected. A bartender at the time clicked a "like" button on the post in order to show support for her comments, and a woman who was then working as a waitress added additional comments, including an expletive term used to describe her employer. Reportedly, the bar owner was made aware of the comments and fired both the bartender and the waitress.
They filed complaints with the NLRB who issued a statement saying that while some forms of speech cause employees to lose protection under the National Labor Relations Act, the comments made by those involved did not violate the conditions in any way. The court upheld the NLRB's decision. The court also rejected an opposing argument that attempted to cite a recent decision in favor of Starbucks Coffee against an employee that had uttered malicious statements and used profanity directed toward a supervisor in front of patrons, stating that the two situations were not analogous.
Any Massachusetts employee who believes that he or she has incurred wrongful termination because of something written on a social network may contact an employment law attorney for guidance. The attorney could clarify the laws and regulations that govern such matters. If one chooses to file a claim against an employer, an attorney would be prepared to handle an employee's claim.
Source: hopkinton.wickedlocal.com, "YOU AND THE LAW: When criticizing your employer can get you fired", George Thompson, Nov. 14, 2015