FDRLST Media, LLC v. Nat’l Labor Relations Bd.

The Third Circuit ruled that there was “no inkling” that a reasonable employee of The Federalist online magazine could interpret as a threat the publisher’s tweet that he would send them “back to the salt mine” if they tried to unionize. The brouhaha began when employees of Vox media — unrelated to the plaintiff — threatened to unionize. In response, the publisher of The Federalist tweeted from his personal account: “FYI @fdrlst first one of you tries to unionize I swear I’ll send you back to the salt mine.” The following day, a Massachusetts resident with no connection to FDRLST Media filed an unfair labor practices charge. The dense opinion by Judge Hardiman and concurrence by Judge Matey are interesting reads. The judges agreed that the National Labor Relations Board “lost the forest for the trees by failing to consider the tweet in context, it misconstrued a facetious remark as a true threat.” As such, the Court found no misconduct and set aside the Board’s order, which had ruled the tweet violated Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act.

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