If you make fun of your boss on Facebook and get in trouble, the U.S. government might have your back.
In December 2009, a woman named Dawnmarie Souza was fired from American Medical Response of Connecticut for posting a nasty comment about her boss on Facebook. She filed a complaint in December 2010 with the National Labor Relations Board, which protects members of unions such as Souza from unfair labor practices, and the pair sued AMR. This week, Souza and AMR reached a settlement, causing AMR to revise its policy on how employees can act outside of work.
AMR said that Souza violated its anti-disparage policy, while Souza and the NLRB claimed AMR had violated Souza's right to free speech. With the NLRB's help, Souza not only won her case, but the NLRB says: "[AMR] agreed to revise its overly-broad rules to ensure that they do not improperly restrict employees from discussing their wages, hours and working conditions with co-workers and others while not at work, and that they would not discipline or discharge employees for engaging in such discussions." The terms of Souza's settlement were not disclosed.
Firings due to comments posted on social media are fairly common, but if you're in a union, you're apparently protected in the U.S. by the federal government. If you've not in a union, don't go mouthing off just yet.
Souza not only talked about her boss in a negative way, but called him a "dick" and a "scumbag." Members of unions might be protected in their use of social media, but it's going to make for a very awkward workplace if you go around calling everyone awful things on Facebook and Twitter, so use this information with caution.