My friend Mike Schirtzer sent this article from the NY Post to me last night. A federal appeals court has ruled that union speech is still protected to a fairly wide degree. I can't find anything negative about that.
Here is a large excerpt from the Post piece.
Calling your boss a “nasty motherf–ker” is totally cool — as long as you’re trying to form a union.
A worker at a Chelsea Piers catering hall has won a Manhattan federal court ruling that said he had a legal right to drop an F-bomb on his supervisor in an angry Facebook rant because he and fellow employees were in the middle of a union battle.
Hernan Perez, who had worked at the waterfront venue Pier Sixty for 13 years, had filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board saying he’d been wrongly fired in 2011 for the social-media post.
He wrote the missive on Oct. 27 of that year, after a hard day’s work in which he furiously butted heads with his boss, Robert “Bob” McSweeney, according to court records.
“Bob is such a NASTY MOTHER F–KER don’t know how to talk to people!!!!!!” Perez wrote on Facebook during a break.
“F–k his mother and his entire f–king family!!!! What a LOSER!!!! Vote YES for the UNION!!!!!!!”
Pier Sixty caught wind of the post and fired Perez less than two weeks later.
He had tried calming the waters by deleting the post altogether, to no avail.
At the time, Perez and his co-workers were neck-deep in a unionization campaign, so he claimed in court that his Facebook rant had been specifically aimed at them in an attempt to form a union.
After an administrative law judge upheld Perez’s NLRB complaint, Pier Sixty appealed the ruling to the federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
On Friday, it upheld the lower court’s ruling. The Second Circuit Court said the comments involved union activity protected by the National Labor Relations Act, which covers all union-related speech that is not deemed too “opprobrious,” or scornful.
“Perez’s conduct sits at the outer‐bounds of protected, union‐-related comments,” the court wrote in its ruling.
I am not a lawyer nor a labor law expert but the moral here would appear to be to make sure you are engaged in union activities when speaking out at work. Please note, however, that I am not advocating calling your principal anything like the words used in this case. Be careful. Teachers can be charged with conduct unbecoming of a teacher. We are supposed to be role models for our students even though many do not give us any of the respect a role model deserves. We still need to use restraint.