Advances on Protecting Whistle-blowing and Social Networking of Employees

Two recent positive developments to report. First, breaking new ground, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has charged a company with illegally firing an employee after she criticized her supervisor on her Facebook page. The NLRB's press release is here. Coverage here.

Under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, all employees -- even those not represented by a union -- are protected from retaliation when they engage in "protected concerted activity." Although social networking is new, the NLRB has taken the commonsense view that employees have the right to jointly criticize their employer through Facebook, just as they would over the water cooler.

Second, the large financial reform law (Dodd-Frank) passed earlier this year includes some expanded provisions that support whistle-blowers in the financial industry. The SEC has now issued rules further defining this program. Coverage is here. Note also that the Dodd-Frank Act contains protections against retaliation toward whistle-blowers.