Employees have the right to criticize their supervisors and their employers on Facebook, says the National Labor Relations Board. Just last week the NLRB issued a complaint against a Connecticut company alleging that an ambulance service illegally terminated an employee who posted negative remarks about her supervisor on Facebook. The complaint also alleges that the company maintained and enforced an overly broad internet posting policy.
An NLRB investigation found that the employee’s Facebook post was “protected concerted activity” under the National Labor Relations Act. The NLRB found that the company’s Facebook posting policy contained unlawful provisions, including one that prohibited employees from making disparaging remarks when discussing the company or supervisors. The Board long has found that handbooks cannot proscribe such conduct and it applied this enforcement position to this company’s Facebook policy. A hearing on the matter before an administrative law judge is scheduled for January 25, 2011.
The laws surrounding social media are changing rapidly. Employers should consult with legal counsel for assistance in drafting policies and before disciplining an employee for postings on a social media site.