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New Facebook Cases - No Protected Concerted Activity, But Is It Surveillance??

Facebook cases continue to be examined by the NLRB as a new technology cloaked in traditional case law.  The NLRB's General Counsel has recently decided to dismiss three complaints brought by terminated employees who were fired for their Facebook posts.  In all three cases, the GC found the conduct not to be protected concerted activity under Section 7 of the NLRA.  That approach is consistent with the GC's memo earlier this year which emphasized that content and context were key in analyzing whether disciplinary action brought as a result of social media chatter violated the NLRA.  A recent blog post on the topic appears here. To access the GC's office memoranda on these cases, click here.  All three continue to show the NLRB's focus on whether the Facebook chatter is merely an expression of individual gripes or is the chatter an effort to initiate group dialogue or group action.  Employers must continue to evaluate decisions to discipline for social media postings within that context.

 However, buried in one of the opinions, Intermountain Specialized Abuse Treatment Center, is a provocative and concerning analysis by the GC's office regarding union surveillance.  The Advice Memorandum concludes that it agrees with the Regional Director that the Employer did not unlawfully create the impression that it was engaged in surveillance of protected union activity by having knowledge of the Facebook post.  What??  The memorandum states that employer surveillance or creation of an impression of surveillance constitutes unlawful interference with Section 7 rights.  Here, there was no such impression of surveillance because the employer received the Facebook information from another employee and the conduct at issue turned out not to be protected activity.  However, the memorandum certainly raises the question of whether an employer practice to examine Facebook posts on a regular or even on an as needed basis would violate Section 7 rights.  The jury is still out on that issue.  Stay tuned.

© 2020 BARNES & THORNBURG LLPNational Law Review, Volume I, Number 362
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Adam Bartrom Employment Attorney
Partner

Adam Bartrom represents management interests in employment and labor law matters. He defends clients in litigation, and designs strategic plans and best practices in his work with business owners, executives and human resource management. Adam is dedicated to ensuring that his clients understand the rapidly changing employment environment, adhere to the law and protect themselves at every turn.

Adam’s experience includes comprehensive legal counsel in a wide variety of labor and employment areas under the NLRA, FMLA, ADA, ADEA and Title VII, including labor relations grievances and...

260-425-4629
Gerald Lutkus, Barnes Thornburg Law Firm, South Bend, Labor and Employment Attorney,
Partner

Gerald F. (Jerry) Lutkus is a partner in the South Bend office of Barnes & Thornburg LLP where he is a member of the firm’s Labor and Employment Law and Litigation Departments. He practices in the areas of labor and employment law counseling and litigation, arbitration, collective bargaining, and media law. Mr. Lutkus has been recognized on the Indiana Super Lawyers list for his work in labor and employment Law. The Best Lawyers in America has recognized Mr. Lutkus for over 10 years for his work in commercial litigation, employment law - management...

574-237-1118
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