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Company Settles Case Over Negative Facebook Posting

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has announced a settlement in the case of an employee who was fired forposting negative comments about her supervisor on Facebook. The case was settled yesterday, in advance of today’s scheduled hearing.

In the case, American Medical Response of Connecticut, Inc., (AMR), fired one of its employees, Dawnmarie Souza, for posting a negative comment about her supervisor on Facebook.

The incident began when Souza was sent home after she refused her supervisor’s request to write up a complaint about her performance. Souza then requested union representation but was refused. After Souza went home, she posted derogatory and vulgar comments about her supervisor on Facebook. Several AMR employees commented on the post, agreeing with Souza.

When AMR learned of the Facebook post, it fired Souza for being in violation of the company’s social media policy. AMR had a social media policy that barred employees from discussing the company in any way on Facebook or other social media sites.

The NLRB issued a complaint, arguing that employees may discuss the terms and conditions of their employment under the National Labor Relations Act. Thus, the NLRB claimed that the AMR overstepped its bounds because Souza was discussing her workplace with her coworkers. The NLRB also noted that AMR’s social media policy was too broad and infringed upon employees’ protected right to discuss their employment.

In the settlement announcement, the NLRB noted that AMR agreed to change its “overly-broad rules to ensure that they do not improperly restrict employees from discussing their wages, hours, and working conditions with coworkers and others while not at work.” The company also agreed that they would not “discipline or discharge employees for engaging in such discussions.”

Additional details of the settlement, including payments to Souza, have not been made public.

The NLRB made it clear, however, that right to critize employers, management, or working conditions applies to both unionized and nonunionized employees. According to the board, such activities are considered protected activity under the federal law that gives employees the right to form unions.NLRB settlement in Souza.pdf

♦ Photo by marcopako /Flickr