Thursday, November 4, 2010

NLRB Files Complaint Against CT Employer for Firing Employee Over Facebook Postings

In a rather groundbreaking move, the National Labor Relations Board ("NLRB") has announced that it has issued a complaint against an ambulance service after it terminated an employee who posted negative remarks about her supervisor on her personal Facebook page. The complaint also alleges that the company, American Medical Response of Connecticut, Inc., illegally denied union representation to the employee during an investigatory interview, and maintained and enforced an overly broad blogging and internet posting policy.

From the NLRB press release on the complaint:

When asked by her supervisor to prepare an investigative report concerning a customer complaint about her work, the employee requested and was denied representation from her union, Teamsters Local 443. Later that day from her home computer, the employee posted a negative remark about the supervisor on her personal Facebook page, which drew supportive responses from her co-workers, and led to further negative comments about the supervisor from the employee. The employee was suspended and later terminated for her Facebook postings and because such postings violated the company’s internet policies.

An NLRB investigation found that the employee’s Facebook postings constituted protected concerted activity, and that the company’s blogging and internet posting policy contained unlawful provisions, including one that prohibited employees from making disparaging remarks when discussing the company or supervisors and another that prohibited employees from depicting the company in any way over the internet without company permission. Such provisions constitute interference with employees in the exercise of their right to engage in protected concerted activity.

This is a case I will be following closely as the advent of Facebook and social networking sites has presented a whole new realm of employment and labor law problems. The ABA has more on the story here.

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