Employee's Facebook Post Leads to Firing
A San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) company employee filed a lawsuit against SDG&E after she was fired because of her Facebook post about a customer. Did SDG&E do anything wrong?
The issue of whether an employer can discipline an employee for his/her Facebook posts has received plenty of attention in the national press. HRWatchdog previously reported on the National Labor Relations Board’s activity in this area.
If an employee discusses working conditions on his/her Facebook page, that activity may be protected under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Under Section 7, employees in both union and nonunion workplaces have the right to engage in concerted activities, including discussing working conditions, pay or other work-related issues.
In 2011, the NLRB acted against several employers when those employers disciplined employees for work-related comments on Facebook.
Though employees may not be fired for an unlawful reason, such as engaging in protected activities, employers still have the right to set and enforce policies protecting the privacy rights of their employees and their customers. It is a balancing act with competing interests: the company’s right to protect proprietary information and obligation to protect customer privacy, and employees’ rights to discuss working conditions.
With the ever-changing landscape, employers should carefully craft their social media policies. Employers may also want to consult with counsel before terminating an employee for conduct involving social media.
Visit the San Diego's 10News website for the full story on the Facebook firing.
Gail Cecchettini Whaley, CalChamber Employment Law Editor/Staff Counsel
Download CalChamber’s “Making Sense of Social Media in the Workplace” white paper for more information on this controversial issue (registration required).
HRCalifornia subscribers can visit the HR Library’s Social Media section for more detailed information.