The National Labor Relations Board ruled that Facebook posts and likes can’t be grounds for termination after a Connecticut waitress and cook were fired for slamming their boss on social media.
The incident occurred three years ago when a former employee at the Watertown Triple Play Sports Bar and Grille posted on Facebook that they owed taxes and blasted their former bosses.
Then-chef Vincent Spinella liked the post but did not comment.
A waitress at the time, Jillian Sanzone, added that she too owed taxes and used profanity in her post.
Both were later fired over the 2011 incident.
Sanzone said when she asked why, restaurant co-owner Thomas Daddona said she wasn’t loyal enough to work for the restaurant, according to case documents.
The NLRB ruled that those posts were protected and said the workers should be rehired with backpay.
The board said restaurants must not maintain Internet or blogging policies that restrict employees from “inappropriate discussions about the company, management, and/or co-workers.”
“Although we do not condone her conduct," the board said, "we find that Sanzone's use of a single expletive to describe a manager, in the course of a protected discussion on a social media website," doesn’t pose a threat to workplace discipline.
It is unclear whether restaurant owners Ralph DelBuono and Daddona will appeal the decision, Fox CT reported.
The case adds to precedents that Facebook likes and comments amount to venting and are protected as a workers’ right to protest work conditions.
Image credit: Flickr Creative Commons / Sjoerd Lammers street photography