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Employer Law Report

NLRB’s “Facebook Firing” Case Against AMR Settles

Posted in Labor Relations, Workforce Strategies, Workplace Privacy

Earlier this week, the National Labor Relations Board issued a press release announcing the settlement of the NLRB’s Complaint against American Medical Response of Connecticut, Inc. (AMR) in what has become known as the Facebook Firing case.

In that complaint, the Board alleged that that AMR maintained an overly broad handbook policy regarding blogging, Internet posting and communications between employees and had unlawfully terminated an employee pursuant to that policy after she had posted critical comments about her supervisor and responded to further comments from her co-workers. The press release notes that, among other things, AMR has agreed to revise its policy to ensure that it does not improperly restrict employees from discussing their wages, hours and working conditions with co-workers and others while not at work and that it would not discipline or discharge employees for engaging in such discussions. The exact details of the required policy revisions are not clear as of this date; nor is it certain that the NLRB will be issuing any further press releases regarding this case. The text of the press release is reprinted below.

PRESS RELEASE

Contact:
Office of Public Affairs
202-273-1991
publicinfo@nlrb.gov
www.nlrb.gov

A settlement has been reached in a case involving the discharge of a Connecticut ambulance service employee for posting negative comments about a supervisor on her Facebook page.
The NLRB’s Hartford regional office issued a complaint against American Medical Response of Connecticut, Inc., on October 27, 2010, alleging that the discharge violated federal labor law because the employee was engaged in protected activity when she posted the comments about her supervisor, and responded to further comments from her co-workers. Under the National Labor Relations Act, employees may discuss the terms and conditions of their employment with co-workers and others.

The NLRB complaint also alleged that the company maintained overly-broad rules in its employee handbook regarding blogging, Internet posting, and communications between employees, and that it had illegally denied union representation to the employee during an investigatory interview shortly before the employee posted the negative comments on her Facebook page.

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.

The National Labor Relations Board is an independent federal agency vested with the authority to safeguard employees’ rights to organize and to determine whether to have a union as their collective bargaining representative, and to prevent and remedy unfair labor practices committed by private sector employers and unions.