The NLRB recently ha been aggressively scrutinizing employer regulations of employees' use of social media – even where the workforce is not unionized. Even where the employee is insubordinate, complaints on a social network may be protected.
The NLRB bases this protection under Section 7 of the NLRA which protects employees' rights to engage, or refrain from engaging, in concerted activities for the purposes of collective bargaining or other mutual aid and protection. (29 U.S.C. § 157).
Generally speaking, a social media post is protected if an employee is: (1) acting with or on the authority of other employees, (2) seeking to initiate or induce or prepare for group action, or (3) bringing group complaints to management’s attention.
Note, however, that individual complaints may merely be a personal gripe, and therefore, a termination based on such a post may not be unlawful.