Thursday, August 2, 2012

Off-Duty Facebook Post Results in Termination - WWLSD?

HR Hero reports Employee's Facebook Post Gets Her Sent Home Permanently. An AT&T retail sales consultant posted on her Facebook page (or is it "timeline" now?):
Dickheads from India who stand in front of my counter and bitch and moan and tell me how many oil wells they own in their own country. . . . My service aint good enuff for the likes of you? F_____t!!!
It took me awhile to figure this out . . . but I think the last word is "Faggot" (not clear if the employee or HR Hero edited it out).

In any event, this is obviously not good for AT&T because people who read the post could see that the employee worked for AT&T and the content obviously indicates that she's talking about an AT&T counter and AT&T customers. So, AT&T fired her, citing their social media policy. The employee was then denied unemployment benefits because she was terminated for misconduct. So far, so good.

Whenever I hear about cases like this though, I always ask the important question: WWLSD? Yes, that's What Would Lafe Solomon (acting NLRB General Counsel) Do? This case sounds a lot like the bartender who hoped his redneck customers choked on glass as they drove home drunk. The NLRB advice memo concluded that the rant was not protected. So far, AT&T still seems pretty safe.

Not so fast! HR Hero does not provide the exact policy but twice states that the policy requires social media posts to be "appropriate." And, "Employees are to avoid making disparaging, obscene, or personal insults on any website where AT&T or its customers may be identified." (again, HR Hero's words, not the actual policy). If that's the case, AT&T may have a <gasp!> overly broad policy <sound of thunder>. Recall that the NLRB took issue with a policy prohibiting ""[o]ffensive, demeaning, abusive or inappropriate remarks, finding it overly broad.

So, LS may be OK with the termination but he might not take too kindly to that policy.
HT: My colleague Janine Gismondi via email.

Image: Facebook logo used in commentary on Facebook.