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Chicago car dealership wrongfully discharged employee for Facebook posts, complaint alleges

The National Labor Relations Board issued a complaint last Friday against Knauz BMW, a Chicago area BMW dealership, alleging unlawful termination of an employee for posting photos and comments on Facebook that were critical of the dealership.

The employee, a car salesman, and coworkers were unhappy with the quality of food and beverages at a dealership event promoting a new BMW model. Salesmen complained that their sales commissions could suffer as a result. Following the event, the salesman posted photos and commentary on his Facebook page critical that only hot dogs and bottled water were being offered to customers.  Other employees had access to the Facebook page.

The following week, the dealership’s management asked the salesman to remove the posts, and he immediately complied. Nevertheless, shortly after a meeting with managers on June 16, the employee was terminated for posting the images and comments.

The complaint alleges that the employee’s Facebook posting was protected concerted activity within the meaning of Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, because it involved a discussion among employees about their terms and conditions of employment, and did not lose protection based on the nature of the comments. Unless it is settled, the case will be heard by an administrative law judge on July 21, 2011, in the Chicago Regional office of the NLRB.

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