UPDATE: It’s true! The ambulance service company that fired an employee for posting comments critical of her supervisor on Facebook has caved. Here’s the NLRB press release announcing the settlement. The company has agreed to revise its "overly-broad" policy restricting employee social media use.
ORIGINAL POST: … as long as you’re complaining about working conditions. The federal government has sued an ambulance service company that fired an employee for questioning her supervisor’s sanity via Facebook. The National Labor Relations Board filed the complaint. It says the employee was engaging in protected activity in criticizing her supervisor.
EMT complained about her supervisor on Facebook and was fired
Federal labor law protects employee discussion of working conditions
Employers should check their SM policies; employees should still be careful
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Employees May Freely Criticize Working Conditions
Federal labor law gives employees the right to speak freely about working conditions. This includes complaining about their supervisors. But the ambulance service’s rules bar employees from trash talking about supervisors or other employees. Employees also may not depict the company on Facebook or other social media sites.
The NLRB says both these prohibitions violate federal labor law. It doesn’t matter if the work force is unionized. This may spell trouble for some employers. Many employers are just implementing social media policies. They naturally are very sensitive to online criticism. They’re also not keen on employees airing dirty laundry. For some reason, media companies in particular have sought to limit employees’ online communication.
This is good news for employees. They may use social media for union organizing, challenging work conditions and other protected activity. Be careful though, because this is not a license to rant against your employer or coworkers for the joy of it. This can still get you fired, or sued for defamation.
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