Five employees of Hispanics United of Buffalo, which provides social services to low-income clients, were fired after they posted comments on Facebook concerning working conditions, including work load and staffing issues.
After hearing a coworker criticize other employees for not doing enough to help the organization’s clients, the employee posted those allegations to her Facebook page. The initial post generated responses from other employees who defended their job performance and criticized working conditions, including work load and staffing issues. Hispanics United later fired the five employees who participated, claiming that their comments constituted harassment of the employee originally mentioned in the post.
The employees contacted the NLRB’s regional office in Buffalo. Following an investigation, the case went to trial, resulting in a judge’s decision that the employees’ Facebook discussion was protected concerted activity because it involved a conversation among coworkers about their terms and conditions of employment, including their job performance and staffing levels.
The judge ordered Hispanics United to reinstate the five employees and awarded the employees $58,000 in backpay because they were unlawfully discharged. The organization appealed the decision, which was upheld by the full NLRB Board. The case settled while on further appeal.