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Freedom of Facebook Speech

November 11, 2010

An interesting case is brought before the US courts involving the sacking of a worker because she insulted her supervisor via Facebook.

The US National Labor Relations Board has filed a federal complaint on behalf of Dawnmarie Souza, an emergency medical technician for American Medical Response of Connecticut. She was ‘let go’ when company found her guilty of violating company policy that bars employees from depicting the company in a negative light on social media sites. The NLRB concluded the dismissal was unlawful.

An NLRB representative told The New York Times that company social media policies that prohibit making negative remarks about one’s boss or company online are actually in violation of labor laws that protect employees’ right to talk about things like wages and working conditions.

American Medical Response of Connecticut has countered that Souza was let go only in part due to her Facebook posts and that there were many other reasons for the termination.

Although there is a long way to go with this case, there’s no doubt many employers need to carefully review their current social media policies and perhaps check the legality of what they contain.

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