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NLRB settles Facebook case: no clarity for now


It looks like the National Labor Relations Board will not weigh in on the use of Facebook in the workplace anytime soon.

I wrote here about the Complaint brought by the NLRB against a Connecticut ambulance company that fired an employee after she criticized her supervisor on Facebook.  The NLRB announced yesterday that it had reached a settlement to resolve the  complaint against American Medical Response of Connecticut Inc.

Among the issues in the case was whether a worker has the right to criticize a boss on a site such as Facebook if co- workers add comments. The case was the first by the NLRB to assert that employers break the law by disciplining workers who post criticisms on social-networking websites.

Under the settlement, American Medical Response will revise its “overly broad rules” to ensure that they don’t improperly restrict employees from discussing wages, hours and working conditions with co-workers and others while not at work, and that they wouldn’t discipline or discharge employees for engaging in such discussions, the NLRB said in a statement.  The company also promised that employee requests for union representation when meeting with managers won’t be denied in the future, and that employees won’t be threatened with discipline for requesting union representation, according to the agency.

As I’ve said before,  employers need to  review their Internet and social media policies to ensure that they cannot be viewed as an improper effort to prohibit employees from exercising their rights to discuss wages, working conditions and unionization.  Second, employers should not discipline or terminate an employee for making disparaging remarks until it has considered whether those remarks might be protected.  The NLRB seems to be ramping up its efforts in this area, so employers need to be especially careful.

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