The National Labor Relations Board has alleged that an employer, American Medical Response, committed an unfair labor practice by firing a medical technician, Dawnmarie Souza, because she had criticized her supervisor on Facebook. The Company maintained a policy prohibiting employees from making "disparaging" or "discriminatory" comments about management or co-workers.
The Board contends that the firing was unlawful and that the policy was overbroad because the National Labor Relations Act gives private-sector employees (both union and non-union) the right to discuss or criticize their employer, management, and the terms and conditions of their employment, as long as the speech is not abusive or false. The Company denies the allegations and contends that it fired the employee because of multiple, serious complaints against her.
A hearing on the matter is scheduled for January 25. Private sector employers should consider the NLRB's position before taking any adverse action against employees based on their social networking, as well as when drafting policies regarding off-duty social networking.