Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Fitness Instructor Fired for Tweet About Big Mac

In yet another case of an employer over-reacting to a harmless social media posting, a fitness instructor's termination over a Twitter post is making news.  Grant Hill (not the NBA star), a cycling instructor at Life Time Fitness in Rockville, Maryland, like a lot of Americans, has a Twitter account and likes to tweet about life's musings.  One day Hill saw a coworker eating a Big Mac from McDonald's and decided to tweet:
“A McDonalds bag sits on an employees desk @lifetimefitness aka “the healthy way of life company.” Ah the irony.”
He was later terminated.  

Apparently, Life Time Fitness did not find the post humorous, and, according to the "Capital Business" article on the Twitter firing, "triggered weeks of back-and-forth with managers demanding that the tweet be deleted. Hill said he refused unless Life Time allowed him to write an article about the health risks of fast food for its widely distributed magazine."  Life Time Fitness is claiming the termination was not for the tweet but, instead, "for his work outside the company, which Life Time deemed to be a competing 
personal fitness business."

So, then, the inevitable question that ensues for such a termination: "Is this legal?"  Well, Hill wouldn't have a 1st Amendment claim because Life Time Fitness is a private employer and not public.  Hill "probably" doesn't have a discrimination claim unless other similarly-situated employees did the same, were in a different protected class and were treated more favorably.  That then leaves labor laws and the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) which the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) governs.  The most used section of the NLRA in social media terminations is Section 7 governing "concerted protected activity."  In this case, while it's not entirely obvious how Hill's tweet is protected, Hill did claim the tweet related to Life Time Fitness' "mission," and an argument could be made!

1 comment:

  1. I get older, the more I realize how important it is to be fit and healthy. Build a base of fitness and health is essential to plan to live a long and.....