Category: Email and Internet
On November 2nd the NLRB issued a press release which stated the following:
Complaint alleges Connecticut company illegally fired employee over Facebook comments
Employee posted remarks about supervisor following work-related incident
A complaint issued by the NLRB’s Hartford regional office on October 27 alleges that an ambulance service illegally terminated an employee who posted negative remarks about her supervisor on her personal Facebook page. The complaint also alleges that the company, American Medical Response of Connecticut, Inc., illegally denied union representation to the employee during an investigatory interview, and maintained and enforced an overly broad blogging and internet posting policy.
When asked by her supervisor to prepare an investigative report concerning a customer complaint about her work, the employee requested and was denied representation from her union, Teamsters Local 443. Later that day from her home computer, the employee posted a negative remark about the supervisor on her personal Facebook page, which drew supportive responses from her co-workers, and led to further negative comments about the supervisor from the employee. The employee was suspended and later terminated for her Facebook postings and because such postings violated the company’s internet policies.
An NLRB investigation found that the employee’s Facebook postings constituted protected concerted activity, and that the company’s blogging and internet posting policy contained unlawful provisions, including one that prohibited employees from making disparaging remarks when discussing the company or supervisors and another that prohibited employees from depicting the company in any way over the internet without company permission. Such provisions constitute interference with employees in the exercise of their right to engage in protected concerted activity. A hearing on the case is scheduled for January 25, 2011.
Fact is, social media creates an entirely new world of employer risks. If you haven’t watched our training video on Social Media Risks, now would be a good time to do so!
Electronic Arts is a big manufacturer of software games. There is rumor on the web that one blog article posted by a disgruntled employee (self-named EA Louse) blogsite https://ealouse.wordpress.com/2010/10/12/hello-world/ could have affected the stock’s price and disclosed trade secrets, if not more. The costs to its employee brand may have taken an even bigger hit. More than 1,200 responses have been have been posted on the blog as of today (10/15). Dozens of other bloggers and the news media have also chimed in.
I’m not interested in who is “right.” The simple lesson is this:
- If you are employee and don’t like where you work, then get a job somewhere else. I wonder how often EA Louse took his resume for a spin? He acknowledges EA had a bad rap as far back as the EA Spouse Blog. Was he willing to suffer the abuse to practice his art? Was his artistic vision ignored? Then move on to the competition (if you are good enough) and don’t whine about it afterward.
- If your job can be outsourced then you tread on thin ice. Makes no difference if it’s in manufacturing or IT or programming or design, etc. May want to adjust your career aspirations accordingly.
- As an employer, social media risks are VERY, VERY REAL. How does EA defends themselves against this? I haven’t seen a press release response yet. (I looked for one). What I did see is the war between the leadership of EA and its competitor, Activision http://g4tv.com/thefeed/blog/post/707749/catfight-bobby-kotick-slams-ea-ea-fires-back.html Seems like this can be an expected norm in this industry?
- If you don’t treat employees right they will not only end up filing lawsuits…now they can cost you millions in stock value in one blog post! (Hope you have insurance to cover that!)
- Have a plan to react to what posted about your company in Social Media.
You can start by requesting Google Alerts about you and your company. http://www.google.com/alerts