Bashing Boss on Facebook Is Protected Speech: Labor Board

Workers have right to complain, say attorneys in ground-breaking case
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Nov 9, 2010 1:40 AM CST
Complaints about bosses on Facebook are as acceptable as workplace discussions around the water cooler, says the National Labor Relations Board.   (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Sean Kilpatrick)
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(Newser) – It just got easier to skewer your boss on your Facebook page. The National Labor Relations Board is calling criticism of workplaces and supervisors "protected speech" on Facebook, as acceptable as grousing around the water cooler. In a ground-breaking case, the organization has filed a complaint against a Connecticut ambulance firm, charging the company illegally fired a worker who criticized her supervisor on Facebook. The company bans workers from depicting the company “in any way” on any social media sites where they post pictures of themselves, reports the New York Times. The policy illegally limits workers' free speech rights, according to the board.

"Employees talking jointly about working conditions, in this case about their supervisor," have a "right to do that, whether it takes place on Facebook or at the water cooler," said the board's attorney. The National Labor Relations Act gives workers the right to unionize and to discuss working conditions. A statement from American Medical Response of Connecticut said the suit was without merit and that the worker was fired for "multiple" reasons. "The company believes that the offensive statements made against co-workers were not concerted activity protected under federal law," the statement added.

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