According to CNN, the employee wrote "unflattering and sometimes vulgar terms" about her supervisor, and once wrote, "how the company allows a 17 to be a supervisor." Apparently, 17 is the employer's jargon for psychiatric patients.
The Complaint alleges that the employee violated workplace rules. Specifically, the "Blogging and Internet Posting Policy" which prohibits "making disparaging, discriminatory, or defamatory comments" about superiors and co-workers; and the "Standards of Conduct" which prohibit "Rude or discourteous behavior to a . . . coworker." I'll note that these are common provisions in employee handbooks.
The employer maintains that the Facebook posts are not protected activity. Additionally, the employer claims the case is not even about Facebook and that the employee in question was terminated for "multiple, serious complaints about her behavior," and rude behavior toward patients.
This case has huge implications for employees' social networking activities and employers' policies. I'll definitely keep an eye on this issue.
As this is a big story, there's tons of coverage out there. Just a few links you may find interesting:
- Dan Schwartz - NLRB Alleges that Connecticut Company Illegally Fired Employee Over Comments on Facebook
- Jon Hyman - Does Your Social Networking Policy Violate Federal Labor Laws?
- Jenna Greene - NLRB Sues Company for Firing Worker Over Facebook Post
Posted by Philip Miles, an employment lawyer with McQuaide Blasko in State College, Pennsylvania.