Social Media Reputation, Employee Complaints, the NLRB, and Chipotle

Retail Chipotle by is licensed under CC 2.0.

The National Labor Relations Board recently upheld a decision by an administrative law judge against Chipotle that ruled the company violated an employee’s right to complain about his job when it required him delete tweets that were critical of the company and then subsequently fired him.

The employee deleted some personal tweets after Chipotle’s national social-media strategist saw them in January 2015. According to The New York Daily News, one of the offending posts stated:
@ChipotleTweets, nothing is free, only cheap #labor.  Crew members make only $8.50hr how much is that steak bowl really?
How did Chipotle’s national social media strategist identify that the Twitter account that had the offending Tweets came from one of its employees?  Did the employee identify himself as such? Why would the social media strategist think this tweet or group of tweets was so offending that it needed to ensure that the Tweets were deleted?  Did the social media strategist realize that his/her actions had the potential to create a social media crisis?
Chipotle’s social media strategist’s actions led to tremendous legal bills for the company and numerous negative articles about the company’s social media policy. One take away is that too many “social media experts” do not understand how to properly draft, implement or follow corporate social media policies.
Many “social media experts” have never had the proper training on how to handle this type of situation and how to avoid a social media crisis.  In this case, the best path forward after seeing one or more negative tweets would have been to ignore it/them.  It would have saved the company tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal and other related costs.
Copyright 2016 by Bradley S. Shear, Esq. All rights reserved. 
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