February 18, 2011
Facebook Firing Case Settled
A news item from November, 2010, posted below, discusses a complaint filed by the National Labor Relations Board against American Medical Response of Connecticut, after the company terminated the employment of an employee who had posted negative comments about a supervisor on her Facebook page, drawing supportive responses from co-workers. The NLRB took the position that the employer's internet posting policy and action in that case interfered with the employees' rights to engage in "concerted activities" for the purpose of "mutual aid and protection." The case carried implications for all employers, and not just employer with union workforces, because the "concerted activities" protection extends to all workplaces.
The NLRB's position in the American Medical case was contrary to its position in a similar case in December, 2009, called Sears Holdings. Therefore, employers and their attorneys have been anxiously awaiting the outcome of the American Medical case, for guidance concerning their own policies, as well as to see how the NLRB's approach might have changed.
On February 8, 2011, the parties reached a private settlement and the case was dismissed. Therefore, there will be no adjudication in this case to serve as guidance for employers, and questions concerning taking adverse employment actions based upon Facebook posts and other social media use by employees remain unanswered, leaving employers in a bit of limbo.