In February, a 25-year-old Yelp employee who publicly spoke out against her California employer may have been fired as a result. Although the company didn’t specify its reasons for terminating the San Francisco woman, she was let go hours after using her blog to publish an open letter to her CEO. She also posted on Twitter acknowledging that she might lose her job for the post. Analysts say that if she was indeed fired because of the letter, which advocated higher pay for entry-level Yelp staff, she may have a valid claim under the National Labor Relations Act.
The NLRA protects certain group activities that employees may use to better factors like wages and working conditions. The National Labor Relations Board evaluates each case based on numerous factors, including whether the activities in question benefit other employees, involve concerted efforts by multiple employees or include malicious actions.
The NLRB devotes significant effort to dealing with the way companies govern their employees’ use of social media. While employers retain some rights to punish or fire workers who attack them personally, the NLRB has deemed certain social media policies invalid. Although one analyst says it’s unlikely that the ex-Yelp employee will file a claim, he admits that the case could go either way.
Employees who speak out against unfair conditions in an attempt to make things better are sometimes punished or terminated by their bosses. No matter what company policies say, the law is specific about what constitutes an illegal firing. Those who believe they were wrongfully discharged or targeted with unfair retaliation may want to discuss their situations with an employment law attorney.