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Officials rule Conn. AMR wrongly fired medic for Facebook post

A paramedic criticized her boss on Facebook when he asked her to respond to a customer complaint

By EMS1 Staff

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — An AMR paramedic in Connecticut was illegally terminated after criticizing her boss on Facebook, according to an initial ruling by the National Labor Relations Board.

The complaint by the NLRB also alleges that AMR denied union representation to Dawnmarie Souza during an investigatory interview, and "maintained and enforced an overly broad blogging and Internet posting policy."

AMR challenged the ruling, saying the termination was based on a number of factors.

According to the NLRB complaint, Souza was told to prepare an investigative report last year after a customer had complained. She requested — and was denied — representation from her union.

Later that day from her home computer, the employee posted a negative remark about the supervisor on her personal Facebook page, which "drew supportive responses from her co-workers, and led to further negative comments about the supervisor from the employee."

The employee was suspended and later terminated for her Facebook postings and because such postings violated the company's Internet policies, according to the NLRB.

Its investigation found that AMR's Facebook postings constituted "protected concerted activity," and that the company's blogging and Internet posting policy contained:

  • Unlawful provisions, including one that prohibited employees from making disparaging remarks when discussing the company or supervisors
  • Another that prohibited employees from depicting the company in any way over the Internet without company permission

Such provisions constitute interference with employees in the exercise of their right to engage in protected concerted activity, the NLRB said.

In a statement, AMR said it disagrees with the allegations.

"Although the NLRB's press release made it sound as if the employee was discharged solely due to negative comments posted on Facebook, the termination decision was actually based on multiple, serious issues," the statement said according to The Blog of Legal Times.

"AMR takes seriously its obligations to the community to provide high quality emergency medical care. In this case, we believe the facts will prove that this was an employee who failed to meet the important standards necessary for us to provide this service to the community."

A hearing before an NLRB administrative law judge is scheduled for Jan. 25 next year.

The National Labor Relations Board is an independent federal agency vested with the authority to safeguard employees' rights to organize and to determine whether to have a union as their collective bargaining representative.

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