In what some employment lawyers are calling a regrettable ruling, an appeals court on Friday faulted a Jimmy John’s franchisee for firing employees that bashed—and arguably mischaracterized—the sandwich chain’s sick leave policy.

Affirming a judgment by the National Labor Relations Board, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled that a poster campaign criticizing Jimmy John’s sick leave policy was protected concerted activity. The court rejected an argument by the franchisee that the poster campaign was so disloyal and dishonest that it lost protection.

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