Board Upholds Backpay and Reinstatement Award for Workers Fired for Discussing a Workers' Rights Book on Facebook

We previously reported that several workers in a non-union store were awarded backpay and reinstatement by an administrative law judge (ALJ) of the National Labor Relations Board after being fired for discussing a California Workers’ Rights book on Facebook.  The employer appealed the decision and the National Labor Relations Board in D.C. recently upheld the ALJ’s decision—an exciting second win.

The workers discussed complaints about their working conditions, including mis-treatment by their manager, on Facebook.  One of the workers posted on Facebook: “hey dudes it’s totally cool, tomorrow I’m bringing a California Worker’s Rights book to work BOY will you be surprised by all the crap that’s going on that’s in violation.” 

A few days after this posting, the coworkers saw an email from one member of management to another, mistakenly sent to a shared email address, which read: “I guess she also stated that her mom picked up a California employment book and that we are doing all kind of things wrong … I think we need to take action right away …” A few days later, the worker who posted about the California Workers’ Rights book and one other were fired.

The workers’ conduct was found to be “protected concerted activity” because their activities involved an effort of workers acting together to make their workplace better.  This law office filed the initial charge with the NLRB.  The Board has ordered some unusual remedies and required the employer to post a notice describing its unfair labor practices.

This case also shows that traditional understandings about protected concerted activity translate over even when involving interactions on social media, such as Facebook.

A complete copy of the Board’s decision, will soon be available at http://www.nlrb.gov/cases-decisions/board-decisions listed as case number: 359 NLRB No. 96.

To purchase copies of the California Workers’ Rights book involved coauthored by David A. Rosenfeld, Miles E. Locker, and Nina G.SW Fendel, click here: https://irlestore.berkeley.edu/laborcenter/cwr/orderform.php

By Lisl Duncan

Legal Developments