Since its enactment in 1935, the National Labor Relations Act (the Act), 29 U.S.C. § 157, has protected the right of employees to engage in "concerted activities," including the right to talk to co-workers about their jobs, managers and working conditions. A groundbreaking complaint recently filed by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) seeks to extend the Act's protections to comments posted by employees on Facebook and other social media sites.
In its complaint, the NLRB alleges that American Medical Response of Connecticut, Inc. illegally fired an employee after she posted negative comments about her supervisor on Facebook. The incident occurred after the employee's supervisor allegedly denied her union representation. Later that day, the employee posted disparaging comments about the supervisor on her personal Facebook page from her home computer. Several co-workers responded to her posts with similar comments. The employee was later terminated for violating a company Internet policy that prohibits employees from depicting the company "in any way" on the Internet.
In its complaint, the NLRB alleges that the employee's Facebook posts are "protected concerted activities." The NLRB further argues that American Medical's policy unlawfully interferes with the employee's rights under the Act by prohibiting employees (1) from making remarks online about the company and supervisors and (2) from depicting the company "in any way" over the Internet without company permission. American Medical maintains that the employee's slanderous comments are not concerted protected activity.