Ambulance Company Violates Federal Law for Suspending Employee for Posting Negative Comments about her Supervisor Facebook

    January 5, 2015

    Companies can face serious legal problems for firing an employee for their social media activity without first determining whether the employee’s speech is protected under federal law. Here’s a recent case:

    The Facts

    After an ambulance employee’s supervisor refused to assist her in preparing an incident report, the employee posted on Facebook from her home computer that the supervisor was a “scumbag” because of the refusal. Her Facebook post drew responses from her coworkers, which led to a Facebook discussion with her coworkers about supervisory activities. The employee posted additional negative comments about her supervisor, including some name-calling, but did not make any verbal or physical threats. The employee was suspended, and later fired, for her Facebook posts.

    The Result

    The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) determined that the ambulance company violated federal law for firing the employee because she had engaged in protected activity by exercising her right to discuss supervisory activities with her coworkers on Facebook. The NLRB reasoned that the comments were made during an online employee discussion of supervisory activities outside of the workplace during non-work hours.

    The Consequences

    If an employer disciplines or fires an employee for engaging in protected activity, or institutes a workplace rule or policy that would prohibit employees from engaging in such activity, the employer can face serious programs, such as a lawsuit, unfair labor charge, repaying the employees lost wages, and paying their attorneys fees and costs. So this begs the question:


    Should You Fire over Facebook?


    Many companies have disciplined their employees over their social media posts or instituted policies prohibiting certain online activities. But are these employment practices and policies legal? In my next webinar, I will teach you about important labor and employment law issues in the context of social media in the workplace and how to manage employee social media use.


    January 22 | 12:00-1:30 est | $150 Live or OnDemand

    1.5 Hours of CLE Credits Approved in Florida and Louisiana

    Approval Pending in California, Georgia, South Carolina, and Nevada

    Register Now for "Should You Fire over Facebook"


    Social media law attorney, author, professor, and keynote speaker Ethan Wall will:


    • Identify protected employee speech under the NLRA
    • Distinguish the lawfulness of discipline for employee social media use
    • Analyze legal from illegal social media policies and rules
    • Teach you how to draft lawful social media policies
    • Set forth techniques to maximize compliance with federal labor law





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