Healthcare News & Insights

Calling the boss nuts on Facebook? Feds say it’s OK


What health care pros can and can’t say online about their employers is up for debate, thanks to an important new legal case. The fallout could have huge repercussions for both hospitals and their employees. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has filed a complaint against American Medical Response of Connecticut (AMR) on behalf of one of the company’s former emergency medical technicians.

The case for and against online venting

Dawnmarie Souza was told to prepare a response to a customer who had complained about her job performance. Souza’s supervisor denied her request to have a union rep assist her with the response.

Souza took to Facebook to complain about the situation — employing several vulgarities and using company code for psychiatric patients to describe her supervisor. Several of Souza’s co-workers responded with support and were also critical of the supervisor. Once management got word of the post, Souza was fired.

AMR says Souza was fired after multiple complaints about her behavior and that the company considered the posting a personal attack against a co-worker. AMR also says Souza was in violation of company policy not to comment on the company “in any way” in their social media profiles.

The NLRB sees it differently: According to the board, Souza and her co-workers were engaging in a discussion about work conditions and therefore their speech was protected.

The hearing is scheduled to begin Jan. 25. We’ll keep you posted.

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  1. I would love to hear the outcome of this case, please let your readers know the update. That is terrible that you cannot vent where you to choose to vent and feel comfortable. I am not a facebook fan but I was told if you hold a conversation on facebook that your identity is protected no one can tell who you are talking to or with. Again I am not on facebook so maybe the info I was giving was wrong. I feel for the young lady losing her job when the economic situation is terrible and holidays are approaching, I wish Ms. Souza the best.

    • Carol Katarsky says:

      Pam, just to clarify things: It’s up to each user on Facebook to make the page private or not. I haven’t seen any information to indicate whether the woman in this story had her page open to the public, or if other people copied the information and shared it with others.

  2. I think that if you are employed then you have a certain amount of loyalty to your employer. I see a lot of people who do not want to be held accountable for anything let alone their actions or what they say. If you have a problem with your employer either sit down and talk about it, complain to your Union Rep, or go find another job. Don’t take the junior high cheap shots like I find so many people doing. Either be loyal to the person who provides you a paycheck or find somother place to work. Gauranteed the next pasture is not as green as you think.

    An individual can designate those they want on their facebook so the general public can’t read what is written. It is when others repeat what the individual has said that can create a problem. Who is responsible if her remarks actually hurt the operation of the business even though they were said on her private facebook?

  3. Thank you Carol & Mike for your insight regarding facebook.

    Also, Mike I am in agreement with you when you stated people don’t want to be held accountable for their actions, I was in a similiar situation 2 yrs ago when higher authority blamed me for their bad evaluation.

  4. I agree with the company and I don’t understand how and why we keep allowing people who do stupid and inresponsible things to be able to claim that it’s not their fault and someone else is to blame. Ms. Souza should be responsible for her own actions, and to post something inappropriate about the company that she works for is her fault.

    Where did the days of being held responsible for your own actions go? She did something wrong and had she taking out an newspaper ad to make the statements that she did this would not be an issue. Facebook is not fully private and users know the risk that they are taking when they sign up for an account and when they “friend” someone. Stop sueing for your own stupidity and own up to what you do.