Posted On: February 9, 2011 by Siegler & Traub, L.L.C.

Company Settles Facebook "Slander" Case

A company that fired a worker after she posted negative remarks about her boss on Facebook, discussed in an earlier post, has settled a complaint brought by the National Labor Relations Board by agreeing to revamp its rules to ensure they don't restrict workers' rights.

The case involving the employer, American Medical Response of Connecticut Inc. and the employee, Dawnmarie Souza, had become a test of how much latitude employees may have when posting comments about work matters from their home computers on social media sites such as Facebook.

When the National Labor Relations Board issued its complaint about the firing last fall, it alleged the firing was illegal because the online posting constituted "protected concerted activity" under the National Labor Relations Act. That law allows employees to discuss the terms and conditions of their employment with co-workers and others, and the employee involved in the case had posted comments about her supervisor and responded to further comments from her co-workers.

The NLRB had also alleged the company maintained and enforced overly broad rules in its employee handbook regarding blogging, Internet posting, and communications between employees.

Under the terms of the settlement the company agreed to revise its rules. The company agreed not to discipline or discharge employees for engaging in discussions about wages and other work issues when not on the job. As part of the settlement with the NLRB, 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.

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