The National Labor Relations Board (NRLB) has filed a lawsuit against American Medical Response (AMR) of Connecticut claiming the company illegally fired an employee after the employee complained about AMR on the social media site Facebook. This may be the first case in which the board has come forward to argue for the worker, claiming that the remarks on the social networking site are protected activities. Employers, they claim, are violating law if they punish workers for such comments.
The alleged activity involves the firing of a medical technician on the grounds of violating company policy by depicting the company on Facebook.
According to NLRB acting general counsel Lafe Solomon, the employee has the right to talk about working conditions, including the supervisor, which is what occurred in this case. The law in question gives workers the right to discuss working conditions or unionization without fear of punishment by the employer. The board says that the company’s policy in regards to the Facebook page was “overly broad.”
In addition to this, the board also stated that other company policies may also be out of line, including those that stop employees from making disparaging or discriminatory comments when discussing the company, supervisors or the coworkers involved.
American Medical Response of Connecticut denies the allegations made by the labor board. It stated that the employee was discharged for multiple incidents and serious complaints. The employee, according to the company, was also fired due to repeated offenses against other employees.
The employee in question is Dawnmarie Souza. According to the allegations, the employee was required to prepare a response to a customer’s complaint about her work, and complained that the company did not allow the Teamster Union to do this for her. She then mocked the supervisor on Facebook.
Allegedly, she stated, “love how the company allows a 17 to become a supervisor” referring to a 17 as a term for a psychiatric patient. These comments drew support from coworkers on the site.
The hearing is to be held in January to determine the merits of the case. Finding the line of where employees are stepping over their protected rights is likely to be the foundation of the hearing and the ruling to come from it.
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