We’re about to see how far companies can go when attempting to control what their employees can say about them in cyberspace. And, for the Facebook generation, the implications are enormous.
The National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”)–which we often think merely regulates the world of labor unions–has charged a company with unlawful activity by firing one of its employees who criticized her boss in a post on her Facebook page. The NLRB filed a complaint against an ambulance service company, American Medical Response of Connecticut, charging the company’s policy on cyberspace comments was overly restrictive. The employee had criticized her supervisor on her Facebook page over a work dispute regarding a customer complaint against the employee. Her comments drew the support of her co-workers.
The National Labor Relations Act protects the right of employees to freely comment on wages, benefits and other conditions of employment. In taking up the employee’s case, the NLRB said the company rule improperly limited the rights of the employees to discuss their working conditions among themselves. The fact the “conversation” was on Facebook did not deter the NLRB.
As strategic Orlando Human Resources consultants and business partners we like to track this stuff; it’s important to both employees and companies–union and non-union–because the social media frontier may become an extension of the work cubical. Stay tuned on this one.