The employees were seeking union representation. Two days before the election, the supervisor allegedly chastised workers in front of customers.
A worker then posted to Facebook:
Bob is such a NASTY MF-er don’t know how to talk to people!!!!!! F*** his mother and his entire f***ing family!!!! What a LOSER!!!! Vote YES for the UNION!!!!!!!
He was fired, and the union filed an unfair labor practices charge with the NLRB.
The exhortation to “Vote YES for the UNION!!!!!!!“ apparently made all the difference, because the NLRB focused on the firing in the context of the upcoming union election. The board ruled that the employee’s Facebook post was protected activity under the National Labor Relations Act.
The vulgar language did not much disturb the NLRB. It said that because similarly coarse speech was commonly used on the job at Pier Sixty, it was not offensive in the context of the Facebook post and did not constitute insubordination.