An employee recently went on a Facebook rant full of profane remarks about his manager, which consequently got him fired. At the end of the tirade of expletives in the employee’s Facebook post was a call-to-action for his fellow employees to vote in favor of forming a union in an upcoming election. The employee’s post was focused upon his manager’s abusive and otherwise disrespectful treatment of the employees in his charge.
Employee Protection or Overprotection?
The National Labor Relations Board found that the employee was unlawfully discharged in this instance, in a 2-1 decision. The majority concluded that the employee was ‘engaged in protected concerted activity’ when he asked for union support, which is allowed by law. The post was penned away from the workplace, while the employee was outside of the employer’s facility.
Profanity Accepted – In This Instance
The method in which the employee delivered his message was not put into question because the manager himself had used expletives and profane language during his normal workday and had never explicitly stated that the language was unacceptable in the workplace. Further, the manager had never terminated any other employees for using profane language.
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