In American Medical Response of Connecticut, Inc and International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 443 (October 27, 2010), an employer’s blogging and social networking policy, which prohibited employees from posting disparaging comments about co-workers or the employer online, was deemed unlawful by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). This administrative action was commenced by the Hartford, Connecticut office of the NLRB on behalf of Dawnmarie Souza, a former employee of the respondent, AMR. Ms. Souza requested union representation when AMR asked that she participate in an internal investigation concerning a customer complaint that was made about her work. AMR reportedly refused this request, after which Ms. Souza posted allegedly disparaging comments about her supervisor on her Facebook page. Soon thereafter, AMR terminated Ms. Souza.
The NLRB conducted an investigation and concluded that this termination unlawfully was based on her Facebook postings. In addition, the NLRB alleged that AMR’s policies and actions unlawfully hinder employees’ right to engage in concerted activities, which is protected under the auspices of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). AMR argued that Ms. Souza would have been terminated regardless of her Facebook posts.
Though the parties have settled, this case reflects the NLRB’s position that employers’ social networking, blogging and internet use policies must be tailored so as not to violate the NLRA. Indeed, AMR agreed to revise its policies and to not discipline employees for engaging in discussions about wages and other work issues when not on the job.