Your employees are now officially allowed to complain about your business on Twitter
(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)
Thinking of reprimanding or terminating an employee because he bad-mouthed your company on social media? Not anymore, you can’t, according to this report from Eater.com.
Last year an employee at a Pennsylvania Chipotle was upset at the company’s wages and lack of mandated breaks. o he went on social media and complained. He was warned by management and took the tweet down, choosing instead to circulate a petition about the lack of breaks.
This was not the first time the employee was critical of his employer on social media. For example, he once posted a message aimed at the company’s communication director asking for a snow day when public transportation was shut. He also replied to customers on Twitter with messages like ““nothing is free, only cheap #labor. Crew members only make $8.50hr how much is that steak bowl really?” and that the restaurant’s guacamole cost “extra not like #Qdoba, enjoy the extra $2.”
Management was not pleased. He was fired.
Fast forward to last week, when the National Labor Relations Board finalized a decision rendered back in March by an administrative judge that the chain was wrong for not only firing the employee, but for limiting his commentary on social media. The ruling is also forcing the eatery to change some of its policies to allow employees to circulate petitions or even use Chipotle’s name for political purposes. In addition, the company was ordered to “post signs acknowledging that some of its employee policies (specifically the social media rules) were illegal and re-hire the employee with back pay due him.”
The message from the NLRB is that, barring anything libelous, freedom of speech is protected for employees who want to criticize their employers on Twitter – even your company. Even if you charge an extra two bucks for guacamole.