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The New York Times this morning that that National Labor Relations Board has filed a complaint on behalf of an employee of a Connecticut ambulance service, saying that the company illegally fired the worker after she complained about her supervisor on her Facebook page.

According to the story, “This is the first case in which the labor board has stepped in to argue that workers’ criticisms of their bosses or companies on a social networking site are generally a protected activity and that employers would be violating the law by punishing workers for such statements.”

The question is whether Facebook postings are protected activities under the same law that “gives workers a federally protected right to form unions” and “prohibits employers from punishing workers — whether union or nonunion — for discussing working conditions or unionization.”
KC's View:
Expect whatever ruling that comes out of this case to have an impact on almost every working environment.

To be fair, the Times notes that the worker’s postings were insulting, somewhat vulgar, and went beyond a simple discussion of working conditions. And the company maintains that she was fired for multiple reasons connected to job performance, while conceding that the Facebook postings did play a role.

This is the new reality of the world we live in. Not always pretty, but almost impossible to avoid. I think my bigger problem is with the incivility of the postings, at least as they are described, rather than the existence of the postings themselves. But it is critical for every supervisor and company to remember that transparency rules, and they have to deal with it. Even when it is inconvenient.