A National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) administrative law judge (ALJ) recently found that an expletive-ridden Facebook conversation between two employees of a nonprofit youth center were so egregious as to take the comments outside the protection of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and warranted dismissal.The case, Richmond District Neighborhood Center v. Ian Callaghan, involved a California nonprofit organization engaged in the operation of community programs including after school and summer programs for youth. The organization rescinded offers to rehire to two employees after it learned of an expletive-ridden Facebook conversation between the employees. The conversation included the following statements:

  • “I’m not doing the t.c. [sic] let them figure it out and they start loosin’ kids I ain’t help’n HAHA”
  • “I don’t feel like being their b***h and making it all happy-friendly middle school campy.  Let’s do some cool s**t, and let them figure out the money. * * * Let’s f**k it up.”
  • “We gone have hella clubs and take the kids J”
  • “F**k em.  Fields trips all the time to wherever the f*** we want!”

The ALJ concluded that the employees were engaged in concerted activity by voicing their disagreement with management’s running of the teen center. However, the ALJ held that the remarks were not protected under the NLRA because the conduct was so egregious in this circumstance to take it outside the protection of the Act and of such a character to render the employees unfit for service.

In reaching this decision, the ALJ pointed to the fact that the nonprofit organization relied upon grants and other funding from the government and private donors. The ALJ found that the organization was concerned that funding agencies and parents of students could see the Facebook conversation, and that such remarks could jeopardize the program’s funding and the safety of the youth served by the program. Citing the employees remarks about doing some “cool s**t” and letting the organization “figure out the money,” having and taking the kids to “hella clubs,” and taking field trips to wherever they wanted, the ALJ found that the organization lawfully concluded that the actions proposed in the employees Facebook conversation were not protected under the Act and that the employees were unfit for further service.

By: Emily Wilcheck