Can you get fired for sounding off about your boss on Facebook?
Dawnmarie Souza, a former AMR employee, was fired in December 2009 after posting about her boss in a series of expletives on the social networking site. She also posted from a home computer: “Looks like I am getting some time off. Love how the company allows a 17 [AMR code for a ‘psychiatric patient’] to be a supervisor,” after an argument with her manager.
Connecticut-based Souza said she was denied teamster representation after management confronted her about her behavior, which brought the case’s attention to the National Labor Relations Bureau (NLRB). The NLRB then sued AMR on behalf of Souza for wrongful termination.
Although AMR claimed her termination was based on her behavior and actions toward other employees and not her Facebook comments, the company settled with Souza this week.
There is no universal human resources policy for social networking sites today, according to Polly Wright, senior consultant at the Johnstown, Pa.-based HR Consultants, Inc. Your company may or may not have specific policies intact regarding social networking activities in and outside of the office. You can find out by checking your employee handbook.
But while venting on Facebook might make you feel better, it’s just a band aid. If employees are frustrated in the workplace and want to take action, they need to speak with an HR representative, Wright said.
“Employees are going to social media, and making complaints, and then getting upset that things aren’t changing in the work environment,” she said. “You aren’t going to get any results going on social media. If you want something to happen, you need to make a complaint internally.”