Connecticut Firm Must Defend Firing Employee Over Facebook Comments

November 12, 2010

Federal labor officials have taken aim at a Connecticut ambulance company they allege fired a union employee who posted negative comments about her supervisor on her personal Facebook page.

The complaint issued by the Hartford office of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on October 27 also alleges that the company, American Medical Response of Connecticut, Inc., illegally denied union representation to the employee during an investigatory interview, and maintained an “overly broad” blogging and Internet posting policy.

According to the NLRB, when the employee was asked by her supervisor to prepare an investigative report concerning a customer complaint about her work, she requested but was denied representation from her union, Teamsters Local 443. Later that day from her home computer, the employee posted a negative remark about the supervisor on her personal Facebook page, which drew supportive responses from her co-workers, and led to further negative comments about the supervisor from the employee, according to the NLRB.

NLRB alleges that the employee was suspended and later terminated for her Facebook postings and because such postings violated the company’s Internet policies.

NLRB determined that the employee’s Facebook postings constituted protected concerted activity, and that the company’s blogging and Internet posting policy contained unlawful provisions, including one that prohibited employees from making disparaging remarks when discussing the company or supervisors and another that prohibited employees from depicting the company in any way over the Internet without company permission. According to NLRB, such provisions constitute interference with employees in the exercise of their right to engage in protected concerted activity.

American Medical Response of Connecticut has denied the NLRB’s allegations. In a statement issued to the New York Times, the company said the employee was fired after there were multiple complaints about her behavior. The company also defended holding the employee responsible for the Facebook negative comments on co-workers. The company;s statement to the New York Times said that it believes “the offensive statements made against the co-workers were not concerted activity protected under federal law.”

A hearing on the case is scheduled for Jan. 25, 2011.

Topics Connecticut

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