NLRB, Employer Settle 'Facebook Firing' Case

Lora Bentley

The last we heard about the Connecticut ambulance worker who was fired after "airing grievances" about her boss with coworkers on Facebook, the hearing set to address whether her posts were indeed protected speech under the labor laws had been postponed. The National Labor Relations Board, which had filed a complaint on her behalf, was negotiating a settlement with her employer.


According to The Wall Street Journal, those negotiations were successful. The NLRB agreed to drop the complaint in exchange for the employer's commitment to revise its rules such that employees are not disciplined, fired or threatened with firing for "engaging in discussions about wages and other work issues ..." The NLRB argued that Facebook was like the company watercooler to the extent that employees used it to discuss wages and other terms of employment.


The employer reached a separate settlement with the employee, the story says. The details of that settlement were not made public.


Because there was no hearing, and thus, no formal decision or determination, the case will not serve as binding precedent for similar situations in the future, but certainly employees and employers should look to the NLRB's complaint as instructive of the way the agency may lean. Now that the argument has been made once, it will no doubt be made again.

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