Senior living worker fired for Facebook posts settles lawsuit with former employer

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A lawsuit that pitted a Virginia continuing retirement community against a former employee who said she was fired after complaining about work on Facebook has been settled.

Jayne Brill, who had worked for 11 years at The Glebe, a continuing care retirement community in Daleville, VA, had brought the lawsuit under the National Labor Relations Act, which applies to workers who engage in “concerted activities” that seek to improve work terms and conditions.

The Glebe's social media policy, which the former part-time financial assistant reportedly had signed in 2012, instructed employees to “speak respectfully about our residents, employees and competitors” if discussing work on social media, reported the Roanoke Times. The policy also said that employees should act professionally and “not engage in behavior that could embarrass the company,” the newspaper said.

After a bad day at work on Feb. 7, however, Brill reportedly posted a message on her Facebook page: “Today was the worst!!!!!!!!!!!,” she said, adding that she had not received needed help from colleagues.

“Thanks for helping out,” Brill's post continued, according to the media outlet. “Oh wait I am a team of 1 because others have meetings or they to [sic] lazy to get up to help someone.”

Leadership at The Glebe subsequently decided to end Brill's employment, letting her choose whether to resign or be fired, according to case documents. The decision, they said, was based on the social media post as well as the fact that Brill previously had been warned about public displays of anger or frustration, case documents said.

Brill said the social media policy was unlawful and that her firing was retaliation against her for “exercising her lawful rights” under the National Labor Relations Act, the Roanoke Times said.

Also a defendant in Brill's lawsuit, filed June 16, was the Virginia Employment Commission, which reportedly denied her claim for unemployment benefits after The Glebe said she was fired for misconduct.

Terms of the settlement, which occurred Sept. 26, were not disclosed.

Ann Lovell, corporate director of communications for LifeSpire of Virginia, The Glebe's parent company, told McKnight's Senior Living: “We are pleased the case has been resolved to everyone's satisfaction. We pride ourselves on treating every employee fairly, equitably and with the highest level of dignity, and we are committed to providing a positive work environment for all employees. Although we are unable to comment on the specifics of this case, we respect the decision of the Virginia Employment Commission, who ruled in favor of The Glebe after a comprehensive review.”

An attorney representing Brill declined to comment on the case, and the Virginia Employment Commission did not respond to a request for comment.

Updated Oct. 6 to include comments from LifeSpire of Virginia.

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