New York-based Barstool Sports has reached a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) over complaints that the sports blogging site’s co-founder threatened employees over their rights to unionize.
Under the settlement reached in mid-December, Barstool Sports agreed to delete anti-union tweets. Plus, the company will shut down a fake Twitter account created in a blatant attempt to identify employees who are union supporters.
Co-founder threatened to “smash” union activity
The dispute began shortly after employees at The Ringer, an online sports and pop culture website, announced plans for union representation back on August 12. Barstool Sports co-founder David Portnoy responded to the news by warning employees he would “smash their little union” if they followed suit.
The next day, Portnoy sent another tweet threatening dismissal and legal action against any workers who supported a union. As a result, the Freelance Journalists Union filed a grievance with the NLRB. It is illegal under U.S. Labor laws for employers to threaten their workers or take actions against them for exercising their rights to unionize.
Barstool Sports agrees to take corrective steps
While the sports blogging site does not admit any fault under the settlement, it agreed to take the following actions:
- Remind employees of their rights to join a union via email and through workplace postings
- The notifications must be extended to workers at offices in Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas and Watertown, Massachusetts
- The notice says the company will not prevent workers from joining a union or threaten those who do
- The company must also delete a video mocking Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez after she criticized Portnoy over his tweets
- Barstool Sports also confirms that it was behind a fake pro-union Twitter account in an effort to discover employees who are union supporters
NLRB increases efforts to monitor anti-union statements
This is not the first time that a company executive has been chastised for anti-union messages on social media. Last year, a judge ruled that Tesla CEO Elon Musk broke labor laws after tweeting that any employees who joined a union would lose stock options.