By Fran Haas
Many employers have implemented policies that restrict the type of content their employees can discuss on social media websites. A recent complaint from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) may cause ground-breaking changes in these sorts of policies. In the NLRB's complaint, it alleges that an employer, American Medical Response, Inc. (AMR) improperly terminated an employee for violating AMR's social media policy. The policy at issue prohibited an employee from depicting AMR "in any way." The terminated employee posted comments on Facebook that criticized and ridiculed her supervisor. The employee's comments drew supportive responses on Facebook from her co-workers and led to additional negative comments about the supervisor.
The National Labor Relations Act (Act) prohibits employers from punishing both union and non-union employees for discussing their work conditions. The NLRB argues that AMR violated the Act when it punished an employee because she discussed her work conditions on a social media website and was terminated. The NLRB argues that employees should be allowed to talk about their supervisors with their co-workers whether or not that conversation takes place at work or on Facebook. AMR and other employers believe that comments about supervisors on social media sites such as Facebook fall outside the scope of protected activity under the Act, especially if those comments are unrelated to work or are untrue.
As a result of this complaint, the proper scope of regulating an employee's work-related comments on social media websites is unclear. Employers should be aware of this case and understand that its ramifications may extend beyond the union context. If you have any questions about this case or your company's policy on social media, please contact us at (515) 283-3100.
[...] and that employers cannot punish workers for making these statements. As we mentioned in our blog post a few months ago, the NLRB filed suit last fall against an employer, American Medical Response, Inc. [...]Posted By Settlement in Facebook case raises more questions on 06/28/2013