Answers from a Los Angeles Employment Attorney
The role of social media is growing increasingly large in every area of law, and labor law in particular is still adapting to the precipitous growth of social media websites. Services such as Facebook, Twitter and blogs offer the ability to express your thoughts and emotions to every person you know, and even some you do not. While these websites can be useful for sharing good news, it’s also natural to want to voice complaints or concerns as well. Some individuals may even consider using social media as a method for whistle blowing. Though you do have the right to post almost anything you would like, it is important to know what is protected to avoid retaliation or termination.
Safety in Numbers
Certain workplace rights are protected under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) of 1935. In particular, the law states that:
Although this legislation was originally written to protect employees’ rights to unionize, the law has also protected employees interacting with each other online in recent cases. For instance, if a group of employees decides to openly complain about or discuss a particular company policy on Facebook or a personal blog, such discussions are considered protected under the NLRA. However, such conversations are protected because they constitute “activities for the purpose of…mutual aid or protection”. Employees discussing problems in order to benefit themselves as a group is a protected form of expression; complaints by an individual may not receive the same benefits.
What is Protected?
There are certain protections that all employees have when they post online. In particular, employees cannot be prohibited from blogging or posting about:
- Off-duty conduct – Whatever you do off the clock, so long as it is lawful, is protected. While such laws were originally intended to protect tobacco smokers, all legal activities are protected.
- Political views – You are entitled to your political beliefs, and an employer cannot punish you for them.
- Whistle blowing – Whether you are revealing a major ethical violation or simply raising concerns about hazardous work conditions, you have protection under the law.
- Retaliation – an employer cannot discipline or terminate your position if you publicly claim and discuss workplace discrimination, harassment, or retaliation actions.
If you believe that you suffered retaliation from your employer due to social media activity, a Los Angeles labor attorney can help. Contact our office today to have your case reviewed by a qualified and experienced Los Angeles employment lawyer.