For employees, Facebook counts as free speech

[deleted account] ( 11 moms have responded )

One of my friends posted this on FB and I thought you ladies would find it interesting...

http://mashable.com/2010/11/09/facebook-...

A federal agency has declared Facebook posts are legally protected speech, even for employees who write negative things about their employers.

In a lawsuit that probably won’t sit well with most employers trying to enforce social media policies, the National Labor Relations Board said that a recent Facebook()-related termination was unlawful.

The employee in question, Dawnmarie Souza, used some vulgar language to deride her boss on Facebook when he denied one of her requests. Several of Souza’s co-workers joined in on the thread, also making negative comments about the supervisor. Souza made these comments on her own time and on her own computer.

An NLRB representative told The New York Times that company social media policies that prohibit making negative remarks about one’s boss or company online are actually in violation of labor laws that protect employees’ right to talk about things like wages and working conditions.

Hence, Souza’s supervisors may not have had the right to fire her for what she did.

Of course, not all Facebook activity is likely to be protected speech. Given the nuances of employment law, you may want to call an attorney before you post something derogatory about your boss or workplace — or perhaps just skip the public, online venting altogether.

According to the NLRB’s Facebook page, Facebook comments can lose protected status depending on where the discussion takes place, the subject matter, the nature of the outburst and whether the comments were provoked by an employer’s unfair labor practice.

What do you think: Should companies have the right to make and enforce social media policies about what you can and can’t say about them online? Or should your personal social networks be protected from any work-related consequences?

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Chrystal - posted on 11/10/2010

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I honestly think that you shouldn't be talking bad about your employer online due to the fact that is very unprofessional. I think if you are upset with them,then talk about it with your family in the privacy of your own home, or with a close friend that has nothing to do with where you work.

Krista - posted on 11/10/2010

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Even if it's legally protected, it's still really, really fucking stupid to trash your employer on any sort of public forum. Your employer may or may not be able to fire you for it, but he or she certainly won't be inclined to help you climb in your career or give you a good reference, either.

Only burn bridges if you've won the lottery, people. Because you just NEVER know who might pop back into your life 10 years from now.

Jenn - posted on 11/10/2010

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I don't think it's any of their business what you say, unless you are making false claims or giving away company secrets. And why are these people so stupid to not have their profile set to private, so that their boss can't see it in the first place? DUH!

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Stifler's - posted on 11/10/2010

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I don't understand free speech laws. We have them here but saying hateful and defaming things is still illegal. FOS elsewhere sounds like it was made up by someone who wanted to be allowed to say whatever they want without facing any consequences.

Jodi - posted on 11/10/2010

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Okay, while I agree that it's an incredibly stupid move to bash your boss or company on your social networking site, it also shouldn't be the basis for being fired. That being said, once you've done the bashing, they will find something to fire you for...you were 5 minutes late for work, you scratched your butt and they saw it on camera, or your second cousin twice removed stoppedc to chat with you for 30 seconds. If you're stupid enough to do this on facebook, be prepared to face the consequences.

Stifler's - posted on 11/10/2010

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If you slander your boss online it's slander, and if your profile is public you should be allowed to be prosecuted.

Amanda - posted on 11/10/2010

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I don't think I'd use the internet to bash or talk crap about an employer in the first place. That's what friends and a phone call is for. I don't think that people need to even be ranting on and on on a computer anyways I mean come on if you hate your boss or whoever that bad, than quit. Just my opinion

[deleted account]

Krista and Becky you have taken the thoughts out my head. I think it is stupid to slag your boss off on FB and expect no repercussions, it may not be sackable but nobody's perfect if they want to fire you they can find something...

Krista - posted on 11/10/2010

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Ugh...THANK YOU, Becky! I agree completely. If your friends list consisted solely of your small circle of most intimate friends, that'd be one thing. But do the people with whom you went to high school, 7 of your coworkers, the people from your gym, 18 of your former coworkers and your Aunt Thelma REALLY need to know that you hate your boss and have been stealing toilet paper out of the supply closet?

Becky - posted on 11/10/2010

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I agree with Krista. Even if you can't get fired for it, it's a dumb idea to be publically trashing your boss! If you are going to have to continue to work under this person, don't you want to have a positive working relationship with them, even if you do think they're an ass?
Whether your facebook profile is set to private or not, it could get back to him/her. And personally, I don't think people should air their dirty laundry on FB anyway. Does everyone on your friends list really need to know that your husband's being a jerk or you hate your boss?

[deleted account]

My thoughts exactly Jenn! My cousin was actually stupid enough to post to his SUPERVISOR'S wall that he thought their company (Wal-Mart) was "SOOOO stupid" and then he got reprimanded for it! Of course, he thought his supervisor had the same view (which she does...) BUT he also did it from his cell phone while on his lunch break. Idiot...

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