If you call your boss a jerk—or a more colorful word—should you be fired? What if you do it somewhere that hundreds of people, including other employees and supervisors can see; what if you do it on Facebook?
NLCB Vs. American Medical Response
As socializing evolves with the times, so too does the legality of dismissals over online content. The New York Times reports that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has accused American Medical Response of Connecticut, a company that provides ambulance services, of illegally firing an employee who disagreed with her supervisor’s decision on Facebook. The complaint was that her supervisor wouldn’t let her consult a union representative to help her prepare a response to a customer complaint, so she angrily sparked some serious online trash talk about said supervisor. And then she was fired.
Facebook Is The New Water Cooler
The issue at hand is that she violated a company policy preventing employees from expressing opinions about the company on social networking sites—but is the policy too broad? The National Labor Relations Act provides the legal protection for workers to form unions and to discuss their working conditions, and the NLRB insists that she was speaking in acceptable terms and she is therefore protected. American Medical Services counters that she wasn’t fired over one unpleasant Facebook post, but over a series of complaints about her conduct.
Limit Your Anger To Phone Calls
From what we can tell, this case will shape up to be quite the fight, and set the precedent for inevitable similar incidents in the future. But for us, disconnected from the case and well out of the courtroom, we err on the side of playing it safe. If you wouldn’t email it directly to your boss, don’t post it on Facebook, Twitter, or anywhere on the internet associated with your name…because it will show up in her inbox.
Tell us in the comments: Should the offending employee have been fired for insulting her boss via Facebook?