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Labor & Employment

Car Salesman Loses NLRB Case Against Dealership That Fired Him over Facebook Post

Posted Oct 3, 2011 6:00 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A Chicago area car salesman has lost an unfair labor practices case that contended a dealership improperly fired him for his Facebook posts.

Administrative Law Judge Joel Biblowitz of the National Labor Relations Board ruled last week against BMW salesman Robert Becker, according to the Chicago Tribune and a press release.

Becker had contended he engaged in protected speech about the terms and conditions of employment when he made the online sarcastic comments about his employer. In one post, he mocked the hot dogs and water served at a sales event, cheap food he deemed to be conveying the wrong message to potential clients. He posted photos and remarked that he was happy to see that the employer had gone all out for the party.

In the other post, Becker posted photos of an accident at an adjoining Land Rover dealership also owned by his employer. A salesperson had allowed a 13-year-old boy to get behind the wheel of a vehicle there, and the youth drove it into a pond. Becker’s comment was: "This is your car: This is your car on drugs."

The NLRB had argued on behalf of Becker that he was vocalizing the concerns of his co-workers, whose salaries were based on commissions. The agency contended Becker could not be fired for engaging in “protected concerted activity.”

Biblowitz ruled the online posts about the hot dogs were protected activity, but Becker was fired for the posts about the accident, and they were not protected. Becker posted the accident photos “apparently as a lark, without any discussion with any other employee of the respondent, and had no connection to any of the employees’ terms and conditions of employment,” Biblowitz said.

Prior coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Some Workers’ Facebook Beefs Are Protected by Federal Law, NLRB Concludes"

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