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I chose to review this case Karl Knauz Motors, Inc. d/b/a Knauz BMW and Robert Becker, Case 13-CA-046452, September 28, 2012 Decision and Order by Chairman Pearce and Members Hayes and Block. Basically, Knauz BMW decided to terminate Robert Becker’s employment with the company because he allegedly posted photos and comments on Facebook (Pearce, Hayes, & Brock, 2012).
Mr. Becker posted photos along with his opinions on social media about two separate events. The first incident was about the food that was being served at the Knauz BMW dealership and the other incident was at an adjacent dealership. Mr. Becker, family, friends, and co-workers chose to mock the event by posting pics of his co-workers making fun of the food being served.
The second event happened at another dealership which is adjacent to Knauz BMW. Bobby took photos of a 13year old sitting in the driver seat of a vehicle and the salesperson was sitting in the passenger seat. The child was playing around in the car and he drove over a customer’s foot and landed the car in a pond. Robert had taken several photos and decided to post them on social media as well. Again, Robert, his family, friends and co-workers chose to mock this event as well.
Copies of Robert’s Facebook post and comments were given to Upper management and they decided that the photos could be very damaging to the company’s image therefore they decided to terminate Bobby.
These incidents landed the decision in the hands of the Courts. NLRB and the court reviewed the case in its entirety and later decided that Robert termination was all about him posting photos of the incident at the adjacent Land Rover dealership. Knauz BMW felt Robert had no business posting the photos because it was not his concern or his business to do and it was not a concerted activity and not a violation of Section(a)(1) of the Act. The courts instead decided that Knauz BMW had violated Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act by implementing/enforcing work policies/rules they had placed in their employee handbook, which interferes with Bobby Becker’s right to exercise their Section 7 rights (Pearce, Hayes, & Block, 2012). Although they found that Knauz BMW had violated Bobby Becker’s right, they also determined that Robert Becker received appropriate discipline. They also determined that Knauz BMW must remove violations of he Act from their employee’s handbook and provide them with a notice after doing so.
2. I do agree with the decision. Employees have the right to come together and discuss their work conditions and way in which they can improve their working environment, job related problems and pay, regardless of whether or not they are in a union without any repercussion from their employer (NLRB, 2013) Even though the courts found that Robert’s co-workers were not involved they do have a right to concerted activity, which means they participated in a discussion between several employees.
As for Bobby posting the photos on social media and voicing his opinions on both events, I think he made things worst when he and others decided to mock and make fun of those incidents was out of line. But he has the right to free speech, but the way he chose to do it, I don’t agree with it. I would have terminated him as well but for other reasons. I live in Atlanta, Georgia and Georgia is a at will state, which basically means they don’t have to have a reason to terminate an employee as long as it’s not violating that employees’ rights.
The event in which Knauz BMW choice of food they chose to serve their customers was their choice and the matter could have been handled differently by Bobby and his co-working. Them deciding to make a mockery of it was unacceptable.
3. I think if this would have happened at one of my workplaces, it would have placed a lot of tension between the employees. I don’t think we would have made such a post out of fear of being terminated. I think we would have laughed and talked about it amongst ourselves, or even discussed it will our immediate supervisor. I wouldn’t have posted it on social media or made a mockery of it. I would not have participated in another decision to do so either. I don’t think any of the employees I work with in the past of future would have conducted themselves in such a manner on social media. We would be afraid to do so.
4. In my opinion the best way to address the situation is to have a meeting with all of my employees. I would explain the situation to my employees. I would listen to what they had to say and/or answer any questions they may have about the situation. I would discuss their rights as employees to ensure that they feel comfortable with their jobs. I will offer to have a representative from the National Labor Relation Board to come meet with them and explain their rights to them as well. In the meantime, I would provide them with all the necessary literature and contact information to contact the NLRB if they have any questions or concerns.
As to how I feel about the social media policy, personally I think it’s a great policy to have to protect not only the company but the employees as well. I think the policy is necessary because it protects the company and its image, but the policy should not only be implemented to protect the employer, but the employee’s rights as well. I will explain to my employees the impact that negative posts have on a company. How it could hurt the business and maybe even closed the doors. I will explain to them that even though they have a right to express their opinion, they should also be concerned about how posting such negative posts could not only hurt the company but them as well. I would explain to them that if they have any questions or concerns about their working environment it should be brought to the attention of management in hopes of everyone having a meeting to address any concerns that they might have. We would go over what is ok to post and what is not appropriate to post on social media. We will go over in depth their rights as an employee when posting on social media. Hopefully after the meeting my employees will have all the necessary information to help them avoid situations like this one.
- NLRB. (2013). National labor relations board: Protected concerted activity. Retrieved from http://www.nlrb.gov/concerted-activity
- Pearce, Hayes, & Block. (2012). Karl knauz motors, inc. d/b/a knauz bmw and robert becker. case 13–ca–046452. Retrieved from http://www.nlrb.gov/node/5078
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