A man stands in front of a monitor displaying the Facebook Inc. website.
Workers who gripe about the boss or their colleagues on Facebook may again be at risk of getting fired unless a U.S. appeals court decision is reversed.
The National Labor Relations Board ruled last year that employees can use social media to complain or comment on management, without retribution. The decision was among 220 issued in 2012 by the five-person board, three of whose appointments were ruled invalid last week by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington.
“It puts all of the board’s actions into question,” Jeffrey Hirsch, a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law, said in a phone interview. “If you’re an employee who’s been fired, and you want your job back, you’re not going to get it until this is resolved.”
The unanimous ruling may upend decisions involving companies such as DISH Network Corp. (DISH), Station Casinos LLC and Gannett Co. on a range of issues related to negotiations over contract terms, access to the workplace when employees are off duty and whether union dues can be deducted from paychecks after collective bargaining agreements expire. The NLRB enforces labor law and investigates complaints brought by employees, management and unions.