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The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the independent federal agency charged with safeguarding employees' rights and targeting unfair labor practices, has sued ambulance company American Medical Response of Connecticut, Inc. (AMR) regarding the firing of an employee who called her supervisor derogatory names in off-hours Facebook posts.
The NLRB has scheduled a hearing on January 25, 2011, in the case involving Dawnmarie Souza. According to the action initiated by the NLRB's Hartford, Conn., office, a customer complained about Souza in November 2009, which prompted her superiors to request that she write up an incident report. Souza asked for representation from her union, Teamsters Local 443, but her request was denied, and her supervisors allegedly threatened to discipline her over her representation request, according to the complaint.
From her home computer later that same day, Souza allegedly posted on Facebook, purportedly calling her supervisor a dick and a scumbag. AMR fired Souza in December 2009, for violating the company's Internet policy that prohibits company-related posts without permission.
The NLRB asserts that AMR's policy is overbroad and its dismissal of Souza illegal, taking the position that social media policies that restrict negative comments about superiors violate labor laws that guarantee employees' right to address matters such as working conditions and wages. Besides the protected speech claim, the NLRB contends that Souza was illegally denied union representation.