Monday, February 7, 2011
NLRB Facebook Case Settles
As we reported earlier, the NLRB's General Counsel had filed a complaint against a company for, among other things, firing an employee for criticizing her supervisor on Facebook and because the employer improperly promulgated a policy against employees depicting the employer “in any way” on social media sites or writing disparaging comments about co-workers or superiors. The Board has now settled with the employer, American Medical Response of Connecticut. According the NLRB press release:
Under the terms of the settlement approved today by Hartford Regional Director Jonathan Kreisberg, the company agreed to revise its overly-broad rules to ensure that they do not improperly restrict employees from discussing their wages, hours and working conditions with co-workers and others while not at work, and that they would not discipline or discharge employees for engaging in such discussions.
The company also promised that employee requests for union representation will not be denied in the future and that employees will not be threatened with discipline for requesting union representation. The allegations involving the employee’s discharge were resolved through a separate, private agreement between the employee and the company.
So, alls well that ends well. Of course, a decision by the Board would have gotten some good attention for the agency, but I'm guessing this isn't the last Facebook case we see.
Hat Tip: Patrick Kavanagh
I think we can criticize an employer in any social media sites for as long as we don't mention a specific name and the company we work for. Other social media like blogging sites allow us to pour out our sentiments or anything we like to write about ourself. It is like a daily journal. I think it was wrong to fire the employer right away. A warning will be an appropriate thing to do and if the employer do it again that is the time when you can resort into firing the employer.
Posted by: Christopher Hinn | Feb 8, 2011 7:19:41 PM
In both the coverage of the settlement announcement and the coverage after the complaint was initially filed, I've observed many misrepresentations and misunderstandings (including, unfortunately, the comments in response to this post). I've written two blog posts to try to help folks focus on the facts and evaluate this issue as rationally as possible:
(Nov. 2010): The NLRB's Recent Action: Separating Fact from Fiction - And Unfounded Fear (http://tiny.cc/SMinOrgsNLRBpost)
(Feb 2011): The NLRB “Facebook Settlement:” Let’s Focus on the Facts (http://tiny.cc/SMinOrgsNLRBsett)
I welcome comments and questions on both.
Founder, Social Media in Organizations (SMinOrgs) Community
Posted by: Courtney Hunt | Feb 9, 2011 5:07:02 PM
I don't see why you should be able so rant against your employer and remain employed. The "criticism" needs to be in order "to self-organize, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection..." I'm not sure how a simple criticism is a right to "mutual aid or protection" in this case. Without seeing/reading the actual post, I can't say whether her post was or was not for the purpose of mutual aid or protection.
Just as you can go speak your mind with 50 friends in downtown DC, you can be told to leave since you don't have a permit to speak there... (I think it is a Park Service requirement for groups larger than ? 25 people). You can say anything you want, but you can be sued for slander. Why do you think you have a right to say anything with no recourse?
Let me ask this another way... What does the posting hope to do?
My guess is that lawyers will start advising clients only to hire "at will" employees so that the employees will have NO guarantee of employment and can be terminated for any reason. Is that a better outcome?
Posted by: Counsel | Feb 9, 2011 6:38:25 PM
It is so unfair to fire an employee by just criticizing a supervisor in a social network site. I think the employee is just trying to share his sentiments. It would be so unfair for firing him just for sharing what he feels.
Posted by: openemr | Feb 25, 2011 11:11:53 PM
Facebook is the new frontier when it comes to cases of wrongful termination. Will employees be terminated for bad taste in music? Movies? Unpopular political opinions? Employers and employees have to consider all of the ramifications from the decisions they make using Facebook.
Posted by: Jason Stern | Feb 27, 2011 2:04:49 PM
It is not a good idea that a company fired an employee for criticizing a supervisor online Facebook page. I believe the student has the right to express her sentiments over his supervisor. It would be unjust for an employee to get fired because of criticizing a supervisors attitude.
Posted by: detroit bankruptcy | Feb 8, 2011 12:06:09 AM