During a meeting at its skilled nursing and rehabilitation healthcare facility in Muncie, Indiana, Kindred Transitional Care and Rehabilitation (Employer) distributed a communications policy governing employees’ use of social media. The Employer told employees that they had to sign the policy, and that they would be fired if they didn’t. One employee expressed concerns to her co-workers that the policy too broadly restricted internet communications, including even while employees were off-duty. Ultimately, the employee refused to sign the policy. The Employer subsequently summoned her to the manager’s office where she was fired for refusing to sign the policy.
The employee filed a charge with the NLRB’s Indianapolis Regional Office alleging that the policy violated her rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and that she was wrongfully fired. After an investigation, the Regional Director determined that the Employer’s social media policy contained several unlawful sections which restricted employees’ ability to discuss their terms and conditions of employment, including an overly broad provision requiring the Employer’s approval to solicit certain online “friends” or other social media contacts and requiring employees to include a disclaimer in their internet postings about the company or work-related activities. The Regional Director also concluded that the employee was unlawfully discharged for talking to co-workers about concerns with the social media policy and for refusing to sign the flawed policy.
After the NLRB notified the Employer that it intended to issue a complaint, the company settled the case. The employee was reinstated to her former job with full backpay of nearly $12,000. The Employer also agreed to remove those sections of their social media policy which restricted employees’ rights and post a Board notice to employees advising them of their rights under the Act.