Another employer violates the law for disciplining an employee over social media posts

By Joseph A. Carello

In what is becoming a common theme for employers, an administrative law judge recently ruled that Chipotle violated the National Labor Relations Act after it disciplined and fired an employee for his social media posts. The employee, an hourly food prep and food service worker at a Chipotle location in Pennsylvania, posted tweets complaining of having to work on snowy days. The employee also replied to a post by a customer who tweeted, “Free chipotle is the best thanks,” tweeting that “nothing is free, only cheap #labor. Crew members only make $8.50hr how much is that steak bowl really?” A Chipotle official responsible for social media relations noticed the tweets and directed the employee’s store manager to ask the employee to delete the tweets. The store manager personally confronted the employee and requested that he delete the tweets. The employee deleted the tweets and was later fired for what Chipotle deemed as performance-related deficiencies. The administrative law judge found that the employee’s tweets were for the purposes of mutual aid or protection and therefore protected under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act. This ruling serves as yet another reminder for employers to be cautious and to seek guidance before disciplining employees for their social media activities.

 

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Joe Carello