In what will undoubtedly be a ground-breaking case, the National Labor Relations Board has accused a company of illegally firing an employee after she criticized her supervisor on her Facebook page. This is the first time the board has stepped into a case such as this. They are emphatically claiming that an employee should not be fired due to criticizing a boss or employer on their Facebook (or other social media) page.
Lafe Solomon, the board’s acting general counsel, said, “This is a fairly straightforward case under the National Labor Relations Act — whether it takes place on Facebook or at the water cooler, it was employees talking jointly about working conditions, in this case about their supervisor, and they have a right to do that.”
This act gives workers the right – whether they are in a Union or not – to openly discuss working conditions and employers without the fear of reprisal. The labor board said the company’s Facebook rule was “overly broad” and improperly limited employees’ rights to discuss working conditions among themselves.
The labor relations board announced last week that it had filed a complaint against an ambulance service, American Medical Response of Connecticut, that fired an emergency medical technician, accusing her, among other things, of violating a policy that bars employees from depicting the company “in any way” on Facebook or other social media sites in which they post pictures of themselves.
The law firm handling the case and the Labor Board jointly feel that this company – and many others across the country – need to revisit such policies, as they are too broad. “Employers should review their Internet and social media policies to determine whether they are susceptible to an allegation that the policy would ‘reasonably tend to chill employees in the exercise of their rights to discuss wages, working conditions and unionization.”
What are your thoughts? Do you feel that companies are overstepping their boundaries when it comes to punishing an employee who dares to discuss their job on a social media site? Or… are they well within their right to do so?