You can't stop employees' free speech on Facebook

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Employers: it's not legal for you to restrict what employees say about you on Facebook, or other Internet venues. So says the U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), after settling a lawsuit with American Medical Response of Connecticut Inc. Let's examine the implications, in The Long View... The U.S. government -- in the guise of the NLRB -- on Monday settled with a Connecticut-based ambulance company, which had fired an employee for publicly criticizing her boss on Facebook. The NLRB's position is that the employee's speech was protected under federal labor laws. On the other hand, the employer had set out policies that restricted employees. The case highlights the reality that the Internet is just another medium. Speech on the Internet should be protected in the same ways as it would be if written in a letter to a newspaper, or said in a public place. Read on for more... As the AP's Dave Collins put it:

American Medical Response of Connecticut Inc. agreed to change its blogging and Internet policy that barred workers from disparaging the company or its supervisors. The company also will revise another policy that prohibited employees from depicting the company in any way over the Internet without permission.
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Terms of a private settlement agreement between the employee, Dawnmarie Souza, and the company were not disclosed. ... Souza posted the Facebook comments in 2009 from her home computer. ... The expletive-filled posting referred to her supervisor using ... code for a psychiatric patient.

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