Court rules DirecTV can’t fire employees over TV interview

Court rules DirecTV can’t fire employees over TV interview
© Getty Images

The nation’s second most powerful court upheld a ruling from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Monday in a labor dispute between the DirecTV and employees of its subcontracting satellite installation company MasTec. 

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit court ruled 2-1 that DirecTV must reinstate the MasTec technicians it fired for complaining about the company’s new pay policy in an interview with a local news station.


Employees that protest an employer action or policy are protected under NLRB rules from being retaliated against unless their actions rise to the level of "flagrant" or they say malicious or untrue statements about the employer. 

In this case, DirecTV argued that the technicians were not protected under NLRB rules because the statements they made in the TV interview were "maliciously untrue and flagrantly disloyal, wholly out of step with the employees’ objections to the pay policy."

NLRB disagreed and found that the company’s firing of the employees was an unfair labor practice.

In it’s decision Monday, the court upheld NLRB’s order requiring DirectTV to reinstate the employees. 

"The National Labor Relations Act protects the right of employees to 'engage in ... concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection,’” Judge Sri Srinivasan wrote in the court’s opinion. 

“That protection encompasses efforts by employees 'to improve terms and conditions of employment' through appeals to third parties standing 'outside the immediate employee-employer relationship.’"