With all the news covered about family law cases and employment law cases where social networking sites are used as evidence, federal authorities have deemed it illegal, in a first case of its kind, to fire someone over posts they made on their Facebook account concerning their employer or workplace.
In one employment case, a woman who worked for the American Medical Response of Connecticut was fired for making disapproving comments about her supervisor on her Facebook page. Dawnmarie Souza, an emergency medical tech, was allegedly fired for criticizing her employer on Facebook. In response, the National Labor Relations Board stated that it was illegal to fire her over her comments on her personal Facebook page because she was communicating with her co-workers on her own time and off-site.
However, American Medical Response of Connecticut had a written employee policy that says that no employee can talk about the company or its supervisors on the Internet in any way. NLRB claims that this policy is therefore unlawful.
“Don’t be surprised to find more of these types of cases because of more and more people using Facebook and other social media as their daily interaction with friends and families,” said Ty Gomez of The Gomez Firm of Dallas.
The complaint was filed Oct. 27 by the NLRB’s Hartford, Conn., regional office. It is thought that this case can set a precedent for employers to think twice for firing or retaliating against their employees who use their social networking sites on their own time to share incidences or opinions about their working conditions.
The incident started when Souza had to prepare a response to a customer’s complaint about her work. NLRB said Souza was unhappy because her supervisor would not let a representative from the Teamsters help her prepare her response. Souza therefore logged onto her Facebook account from her home computer and commented about her experience, to which her colleagues responded in support of Souza.
Federal labor law has long protected employees from retaliation or reprisals from employers against their employees who talk among themselves about work and work conditions (even when employees aren’t protected by their union) on their own time, and NLRB’s stand is that Souza’s comment on Facebook is protected speech under federal labor law. A hearing is scheduled on Jan. 25 and to be heard by an administrative law judge.
The Gomez Firm is a Dallas employment lawyer and Dallas business lawyer. To learn more, visit http://www.gomezlawyers.com.