Does the Facebook Firing Case Raise Other Legal Issues?


So, the famous Facebook firing case has been settled, apparently. While it seems to be a closed case insofar as the employer is concerned, the Facebook firing poses some interesting additional questions.

Here’s a good synoposis of the case, as reported by the Wall Street Journal:

A company that fired a worker after she posted negative remarks about her boss on Facebook has settled a complaint brought by the National Labor Relations Board by agreeing to revamp its rules to ensure they don’t restrict workers’ rights, the NLRB said.

A separate, private settlement was reached between the employer—ambulance service American Medical Response of Connecticut Inc.—and the employee, though terms of that agreement weren’t immediately available. The worker, Dawnmarie Souza, was a member of the Teamsters union and the Teamsters represented her before the NLRB.

The case had become a test of how much latitude employees may have when posting comments about work matters from their home computers on social media sites such as Facebook.


The problems began when the employee, a Teamsters union member, was questioned about a customer complaint regarding her work.

The NLRB alleged that the employer illegally denied the employee union representation during an investigatory interview about the matter. The employee later posted the negative remark about the supervisor on her personal Facebook page from her home computer. The comment drew supportive responses from her co-workers and led to more negative remarks from the employee.

As part of the settlement with the NLRB, the company also promised that employee requests for union representation will not be denied in the future and that employees will not be threatened with discipline for requesting union representation.

While Section Seven of the National Labor Relations Act protects employees from engaging in protected, concerted activity, both on and off the job. Does the fact that the employee engaged in posting negative remarks about her supervisor on an open forum give the supervisor the ability to sue the employee for slander or defamation as an individual if the remarks were of a personal nature?

This sounds like something attorneys could have a field day with.


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