The US Court of Appeals for our CT District has just released a ruling that employers cannot terminate employees for making comment criticizing their employer on social media, as long as the comments involve a discussion of “working conditions.” Review this CT law Tribune article for more details of this important decision.
“The sports bar employees were not happy. They thought the owners of the Triple Play in Waterbury were fairly inept when it came to figuring out payroll tax deductions. In 2011, a former employee left a cutting comment on Facebook. Two current workers indicated their agreement.
And Jillian Sanzone and Vincent Spinella soon became former workers as well, as the bar fired them for their criticism.
But now the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has reaffirmed that employers can’t terminate workers for critical comments made on social media, as long as they comments involve a discussion of working conditions. “The Facebook discussion clearly disclosed the ongoing labor dispute over income tax withholding, and thus anyone who saw Spinella’s ‘like’ or Sanzone’s statement could evaluate the message critically in light of that dispute,” the Second Circuit found.
The decision, affirming a National Labor Relations Board ruling, is the second major ruling in recent years that overturned the dismissal of a Connecticut worker. In 2011, the NLRB overturned the termination of an ambulance company employee, in a case that drew national attention.
The Waterbury decision “is really representative of a national trend limiting employers abilities to interfere with an employee’s social media postings and the bottom line is the law will weigh the employees’ right to engage in concerted activity and the employees’ rights to express their feelings against their employer need to be protected,” said Daniel Green, an employment lawyer and partner at Begos Brown & Green.”