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Anniston, Alabama To Censor Employees' Facebook Pages

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the article-summary dept.

Censorship 338

ISurfTooMuch writes "If you're a city employee in Anniston, AL, you'd better watch what you say on Facebook. Under a proposal being considered by the City Council, employees would be banned from posting anything 'negative' or 'embarrassing' about the city. Note that they aren't talking about official city pages here, but employees' personal pages. Anyone care to educate these clowns on the existence of the First Amendment?"

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1st A... (2, Insightful)

msauve (701917) | more than 3 years ago | (#35096800)

They're not passing a law, they're making rule of employment. You want a job with us, you don't badmouth us. That's perfectly reasonable, whether a private or public employer. If an employee doesn't like it, they can quit. It's that simple.

Re:1st A... (4, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#35096874)

If I paid taxes in that town, I would be sort of pissed off that the town officials were spending time on something like this, so I wouldn't call it perfectly reasonable.

Re:1st A... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35096916)

Then move to that town, pay taxes, and get pissed. Outside of that, it really doesn't matter.

Re:1st A... (3, Interesting)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097054)

The slashdot solution to challenges to liberty: become a homeless, jobless bum.

Re:1st A... (1)

divinewind (1108397) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097206)

Being a homeless, jobless bum is alright if you have the cash, or a neat gun.

Re:1st A... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35097566)

There is no challenge to liberty here. The challenge is to misappropriations of funds and he has no say in it unless he is a taxpayer there.

Re:1st A... (3, Insightful)

drachenstern (160456) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097266)

Or do what I did, and move out of the town.

8 years ago and counting.

Re:1st A... (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097810)

Well, you could do that.

Or you could complain and try to get things to change, thus meaning you and possible thousands of other people don't have to move.

The nice thing about modern civilisations is that the populace has some say in how things are run.

Re:1st A... (1)

laughing rabbit (216615) | more than 3 years ago | (#35098062)

Not much to do in Anniston unless you like watching nerve gas be incinerated.

Re:1st A... (1)

iammani (1392285) | more than 3 years ago | (#35096890)

Yeah, this is about workers rights, not 1st A.

Re:1st A... (1)

divinewind (1108397) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097158)

If it is like what the parent says, and if the employer is not very important, say a start up company, it would be fine to let this go.
However, as many would like to point out, this is a city job, a public service job.
That in itself changes the whole game.
As public servants, in theory, they are there to help the public by doing their jobs, whether it be janitorial or clerical.
If this is allowed to happen, it might at the very least devolve into what is currently happening in police jobs.
There if one wants to succeed and keep their job, keeping their supervisors happy and not saying anything bad about them is a must.
Positive criticism cannot be attained and the organization loses a check, another regulating power to help keep it nice and efficient.


Yet, who in their right mind, as a bureaucrat, would let go the chance to control their employees more?

Re:1st A... (1)

katz (36161) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097850)

Actually, since states and cities' coffers are payed by citizens' taxes, their employees are public servants, and freedom of speech certainly does apply here.

This is far from settled law (3, Informative)

ZipK (1051658) | more than 3 years ago | (#35096896)

This is far from a settled issue; there's a lot of complicated case law [law.com] wending its way through the courts.

Re:This is far from settled law (1)

pacergh (882705) | more than 3 years ago | (#35096954)

Actually, it is more or less settled law. The question is the scope of when these restrictions can be applied. Also, labor contracts with unions may restrict this, as might internal state or city regulations. But as a pure matter of First Amendment law, it is settled. The question is whether regulatory law prevents it.

Re:This is far from settled law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35097276)

There are a number of open questions - both for union and non-union employees - including whether employers may access the information upon which action is taken.

Re:This is far from settled law (1)

pacergh (882705) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097310)

Which is regulatory law, not First Amendment law.

Re:1st A... (1)

isotope23 (210590) | more than 3 years ago | (#35096900)

Or, the city could take the approach that anything they do is a matter of public record.....

Re:1st A... (3, Insightful)

Stormthirst (66538) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097724)

Or, the city could take the approach that anything they do is a matter of public record.....

Then they can pay me 24/7 instead of 8/5.

Re:1st A... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35096934)

No, it isn't reasonable at all, not when you're a division of the government. The first amendment exists so that individuals can speak out against government acts with impunity - you can't be held accountable for speaking out against the government. By instituting this rule, they're essentially saying that the first amendment doesn't apply. Legally speaking, they have no right to do it, and morally speaking, it's abject in every sense of the word.

Your employer has no right to censor your speech - period. Even less so when that employer is part of the government who's supposed to be upholding that right in the first place. Conflict of interest.

Re:1st A... (2)

rjstanford (69735) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097154)

No, it isn't reasonable at all, not when you're a division of the government. The first amendment exists so that individuals can speak out against government acts with impunity - you can't be held accountable for speaking out against the government. By instituting this rule, they're essentially saying that the first amendment doesn't apply. Legally speaking, they have no right to do it, and morally speaking, it's abject in every sense of the word.

Your employer has no right to censor your speech - period. Even less so when that employer is part of the government who's supposed to be upholding that right in the first place. Conflict of interest.

That's right. They can't censor your speech.

You also can't insist that they continue to employ you after you call them asshats. Free speech has consequences too, you see.

Re:1st A... (3, Insightful)

Goaway (82658) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097218)

In properly civilized countries, you can insist on just that.

Re:1st A... (1)

Stormthirst (66538) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097744)

But then this is America .....

Re:1st A... (1)

djp928 (516044) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097854)

So you have a right to insist that someone keep you employed when they no longer wish to employ you? Awesome! I'm gonna use that to my advantage from now on. I'll never be out of work again!

Re:1st A... (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097858)

You also can't insist that they continue to employ you after you call them asshats. Free speech has consequences too, you see.

Why not? You're an employee of the city, not the city administrators.

If it doesn't affect your ability to do your job then they have no justification to sack the employee.

Re:It depends on your contract. (1)

Isaac Remuant (1891806) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097860)

I agree. If the contract covers that area allowing them to terminate your job because of such incident then I guess it's perfectly valid for them to do so.

No one is prohibiting you from breaking the terms of that contract but you'll face the agreed measures afterwards.

disclaimer: didn't RTFA.

Re:1st A... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35097880)

Mod parent up.

Whether or not this falls under 1st amendment law or not is irrelevant.
I realize the law would disagree but from a strictly logical standpoint, my conduct outside of the workplace is none of their business.
Including (but not limited to) doing coke off of hookers tits while dressed as a furry and posting in YouTube for the entire world to enjoy

The general public doesn't seem to care if our inalienable rights are pissed upon as long as it doesn't directly affect them.

Re:1st A... (5, Informative)

Port1080 (515567) | more than 3 years ago | (#35096960)

Actually, government employees do have more rights [umkc.edu] when it comes to speech (due to the 1st amendment) than private employees do. They can't just say any old thing, but if their criticism of their employer or the town is found by the court to be "of public concern" it could be considered protected speech. This law actually probably is unconstitutional, particularly if it's very broad (it could be written in a way that only banned non-protected speech, but my guess is they didn't think it through that well).

Re:1st A... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35097990)

Actually, government employees do have more rights [umkc.edu] when it comes to speech (due to the 1st amendment) than private employees do. They can't just say any old thing, but if their criticism of their employer or the town is found by the court to be "of public concern" it could be considered protected speech. This law actually probably is unconstitutional, particularly if it's very broad (it could be written in a way that only banned non-protected speech, but my guess is they didn't think it through that well).

Then it really comes down to whistleblower protection laws.

Re:1st A... (3, Interesting)

deapbluesea (1842210) | more than 3 years ago | (#35096966)

There's a major difference between a private employer and a government employer in terms of speech. IANAL, but this guy is:

The First Amendment applies only to government employers, not to private employers. Government employers are prohibited from terminating employees as a result of their speech on matters of public concern, in most circumstances. However, if the employer can show that it was necessary to terminate the employee to preserve some legitimate employer interest, the termination may be upheld. Speech relating to matters that do not fall within the definition of 'public concern' may be used as a basis to terminate employees, even if the speech occurs on the employee's free time.

As in all things, it's not as simple as /.ers think it is.

Re:1st A... (1)

pacergh (882705) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097360)

Actually, it's even more complicated than this.

It depends on the type of employee and the subject of the speech. Further, the larger scope of rights given to public employees are regulatory in nature, not constitutional (i.e. First Amendment based).

Re:1st A... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35096990)

I, for one, do not want to live in a country where the employer owns you even when you are off the clock. I didn't sell myself into slavery. I offered a service in exchange for for money. If higher discretion is called for, it should be specified in the contract with commensurate salary, not as yet another legal regulation.

Re:1st A... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35097754)

I, for one, do not want to live in a country where the employer owns you even when you are off the clock.

What do you think drug testing is for?

If drug testing was a matter of "are you under the influence of something right now, on the clock" then I'd have no moral problem with it. They are paying you for that time and get to say what you may or may not do during that time. But drug testing is currently a matter of "what were you up to as much as a month ago, on your own time?" and your employer trying to impose a consequence for your use of time they didn't pay for. It's authoritarianism, plain and simple.

Funny how we think it's so invasive when an employer looks at (mostly public) speech they don't like and punishes you for it, but we don't think it's so invasive when an employer demands your bodily fluids which for damned sure are not public. How about we reject anything that even looks like maybe it might be authoritarian and enjoy the better world this creates?

Re:1st A... (2)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097900)

Funny how we think it's so invasive when an employer looks at (mostly public) speech they don't like and punishes you for it, but we don't think it's so invasive when an employer demands your bodily fluids which for damned sure are not public.

Fair point, but I expect there's broad agreement that this is at least as invasive on a liberal site such as Slashdot.

Re:1st A... (1)

rwade (131726) | more than 3 years ago | (#35098070)

Taxpayer-disapproval of public-servants being high on or off the job is almost universal. I can't think of a single taxpayer that would disapprove of hearing from government employees what is going on in the government.

Let's not forget something else -- this is a city, not the CIA. With a few exceptions -- police officers, health authorities -- there are no privacy or public safety implication to a city government releasing information about his own work.

This has nothing to do with protecting the public from harm, but with protecting the employees' managers from embarrassment. And we know that's what this is about.

Re:1st A... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35097044)

But as a unit of the government, this is different that your private employer doing this. Can you make political statements about the current city elected officials if this rule is in place?

Re:1st A... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35097110)

Internationally, this is a pretty damn common term of employment. Just about every employment contract I have ever signed has had a 'disrepute' clause, stating that I cannot do anything which would bring my employer into disrepute. Several recent jobs have specifically outlined that this applies to social networking sites.

That said, most countries also have some sort of 'whistle-blower' legislation, which protects employees who dob in their employer for illegal or unethical behaviour.

Re:1st A... (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097450)

I would argue that that my criticisms were not directed at the "city" or "company" but rather at the directors, management, councilcritter, and that my criticism in no way brings "Disrepute" to the city, but rather the actions of those whom I'm criticizing are what are bringing the disrepute.

It is all about being smarter than they are. Not that will help you when they can you for being a smart ass.

Re:1st A... (1)

causality (777677) | more than 3 years ago | (#35098016)

I would argue that that my criticisms were not directed at the "city" or "company" but rather at the directors, management, councilcritter, and that my criticism in no way brings "Disrepute" to the city, but rather the actions of those whom I'm criticizing are what are bringing the disrepute.

It is all about being smarter than they are. Not that will help you when they can you for being a smart ass.

All of this is only going to have one realistic effect: it will encourage people to share such information anonymously.

When that becomes more common it's going to weaken that tired old excuse for dismissing something without examination which is usually rendered as "how can I trust someone who refuses to sign their name to what they say." The intellectually lazy do love excuses like that. It makes them feel more comfortable living in a world where every important issue can be condensed into a 30-second soundbite that can be accepted as true on someone's authority. The reality is that the only way to know the veracity of an important, non-trivial claim is to investigate it yourself.

When an organization like a city government (not exactly top-secret material here) is supposed to be reasonably open and transparent and starts taking actions like this, it makes them look like they have embarassing information to hide. If they are honest and open, what would they have to fear? The old justification "you shouldn't mind surrendering privacy if you have nothing to hide" is a bullshit excuse when applied to private individuals; it is a perfectly reasonable position when applied to public servants who are on the public payroll.

If this continues to gain momentum, I foresee three eventualities that will unfold: 1) yet more people will be suspicious of their government, only for a change it won't be the federal government, 2) more whistleblowers will maintain their anonymity, 3) more people will exercise critical thinking in the face of untrustworthy government on the one hand and anonymous whistleblowers on the other. All of these things serve to make it more difficult to be a corrupt politician.

Authoritarian types may think that their actions don't have consequences, that by fiat they can neutralize these three effects. The reality is that if they truly have something to fear from disclosure, this is just about the dumbest move they can make.

Re:1st A... (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097114)

it is not reasonable and as a public employer it is indeed different. They are a government, with that comes special powers and special limitations.

Re:1st A... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35097122)

If it were a private company it would clearly be as you say, but it's not as cut and dry when your employer is the government -- then you effectively have a government infringing on your freedom of speech. You can still try to argue that it is a condition of employment but it's more gray Constitutionally. It's even more muddled by the fact that various taxes you pay are indirectly paying your own salary. Also, if what you are doing to "badmouth" the state is reporting illegal activity, you are not only protected but required to report it under Federal "whistleblower" laws. By the way, you are effectively using the 'vote with your feet' remedy that you can work somewhere else. It's not a bad argument, and with a private company I am with you 100%, but with a government entity it is definitely troublesome.

Now my stance is purely based on the case law that treats state and local governments similar to the Federal ones in certain instances of civil rights, but strictly speaking this would not be an act of Congress and thus not prohibited by the letter of the First Amendment.

Re:1st A... (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097294)

So, it's perfectly acceptable to tell someone "If you want to work for me, you're not allowed to tell anyone that I'm embezzling funds!"

It's not quite that simple.

Re:1st A... (3, Insightful)

base3 (539820) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097322)

Whatever. This policy brought to you by Anniston, Alabama 36202 [anniston.al.us] still sucks donkey balls. (Put that into your search engine and smoke it, you oppressive gits.)

In Soviet Russia... (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097666)

No, I don't mean the Smirnoff joke meme.

They're not passing a law, they're making rule of employment. You want a job with us, you don't badmouth us. That's perfectly reasonable, whether a private or public employer. If an employee doesn't like it, they can quit. It's that simple.

So you're telling me that basically if the USSR or China or North Korea had made their censorship be just rules of employment, that would override any freedom of speech concerns? I mean, you couldn't even be employed other than by the state, or as member of some "association" (e.g., a kolkhoz [wikipedia.org] ) which was also run by the state and presumably also within its rights to set its membership rules.

It seems to me like forbidding someone from badmouthing the government or its representatives or decision is exactly what freedom of speech was supposed to prevent. Or at least how most of the world understands it.

Re:1st A... (1)

Stormthirst (66538) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097688)

No - it's not perfectly reasonable. What planet do you live on?

Re:1st A... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35097720)

Perfectly legal, yes (at least as far as I understand things)

Perfectly reasonable is another question...

Re:1st A... (1)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097752)

No, it is not reasonable. Picture a man working for a living that simply sweeps floors and cleans restrooms. Would you have him silenced because he says his employer sells a deadly product like tobacco? They buy his hours of sweeping and labor. They have no right or reason to expect loyalty designed to drive profits or success upward.
                    All laws need to have a funnel effect that forces the criminal and the anti-social actors into a narrower and more exposed posture. The hero that complains that the firm that hires him sells a deadly product deserves a stupendously high level of support from our laws and from all citizens even when that truth is against their best financial interests.How is it that we allow people who sell a deadly product to be in business or to have a penny to their names?The businessman willing to do general harm is far more a pervert that the creep hiding behind a bush waiting to jump a young child and far worse than the maniac who from time to time bashes and slashes people to death. How many people has big tobacco murdered? How many people have been murdered by unsafe coal mines. How many die from cancer because businesses spill or dump chemicals? Learn to spot the really evil among us.

Re:1st A... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35098074)

The businessman willing to do general harm is far more a pervert that the creep hiding behind a bush waiting to jump a young child and far worse than the maniac who from time to time bashes and slashes people to death.

No. They're bad, but not as bad as the other two.

How many people has big tobacco murdered?

None. They never forced tobacco on anyone.

Re:1st A... (1)

B'Trey (111263) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097800)

They're not passing a law, they're making rule of employment. You want a job with us, you don't badmouth us. That's perfectly reasonable, whether a private or public employer. If an employee doesn't like it, they can quit. It's that simple.

No, it isn't. They're a government entity, not a private entity and courts, including the SCotUS, have already ruled that public employers have limits to what rules they can enforce.

http://www.workplacefairness.org/retaliationpublic [workplacefairness.org]

Banning "anything negative or embarrassing" would include many things that are of "public concern" and be over the legally established lines of what public employers may do.

Re:1st A... (1)

Stregano (1285764) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097866)

mod parent up. for real. I agree 100% (I was going to make my own thread about it, but you already started getting the ball rolling). If I bad mouthed my current job on FB, I could get fired (security all set to friend only+nobody from my work is on my friend's list) also helps. That is a big no-no today. If you have people you work with on your FB, shut your trap about it. It would be like having family on there and calling dead grandpa a "stupid, alcoholic loser". Yeah, that will not go over with the family very well. This is almost always a hidden rule of employment. I say almost because exceptions to the rule do apply, but don't bad mouth your job and let people know it is you in public or on the net. Everybody knows that

Re:1st A... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35097986)

I'm not from the US, but from my understanding (based on the UK) there's a hierarchy in these sort of things?
In the UK, no matter what contract you sign, if it’s against the law then it's not valid even if you agree to it (by signing).

So I'm unsure how they (the employer) can state that they’re above the law of the land, doesn't that just simple nullify the who thing of law?

What it seems to me is that the people have been given a power of the audience which most companies pay for and they don't like it.
Really why should a big time (or even small time) company be at all afraid of this sort of thing?

Do you really think anyone stating that "my job flipping burgers sucks" is going to at all bother the company?
This whole thing remains me of why the people fight the corps, it's too easy to simple tell them to shut up of else.
I'm not one to compare things so liberally but the moment someone does nothing to curb the wrongs of others is asking for it to come to their door, you sit back long enough and it will come to your door.
History has show this time and time again, the only time true change comes about is when there’s instability, the same can be said to why there's laws against monopolising. Stagnation sets in. But to be unemployed because you said something that your employer doesn’t like is madness, the business after all is normally making money off your people/land, that's the pyramid scheme called capitalism. So why should they be treated as some golden dictator and not be criticized.
Your comment can be said about anything, don't like that your country, leave (but you were born here):
It seems to have been going on so long now that people really have forgotten that you are (or should be) born free, not born into a matrix of the flesh.

Freedom.. what a joke if you can't even speak your mind.....

Shhhh don’t talk about the colour green I find it offence.

Not about 1st Amendment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35096870)

The First Amendment doesn't protect you from this.

If you want to be employed by the city don't talk bad about your employment. You don't have to work for the city.

Re:Not about 1st Amendment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35096932)

a slippery slope with a very steep dropoff. Especially when it comes to goverment because it needs to be open. If there's corruption, the public should know about it, period.

Re:Not about 1st Amendment (1)

JasoninKS (1783390) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097024)

I think the general "whistleblowers" laws would cover their hind-end anyway.

Re:Not about 1st Amendment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35097188)

one could hope.. of course, rationality rarely comes out on top within bureaucracies.

Re:Not about 1st Amendment (1)

acoustix (123925) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097716)

one could hope.. of course, rationality rarely comes out on top within bureaucracies.

Ah Ha! I've caught you bad mouthing our bureaucracies! Please turn in your keys.

Re:Not about 1st Amendment (1)

purpledinoz (573045) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097064)

And if the city officials are running things poorly wasting good money after bad, you can't speak out? And these are public entities, they do not need to maintain stock prices or compete with other companies. So negative comments about the city are only going to embarrass them into making it a better place.

Re:Not about 1st Amendment (0)

biek (1946790) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097396)

If you don't want to be a political prisoner don't talk bad about your government. You don't have to live here.

Many employers have similar offline policies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35096882)

It's not unusual for employers to have a "don't disparage the company" policy in the employee manual.

I'm not saying it's right or fair but it's not new.

Complete BS (2)

purpledinoz (573045) | more than 3 years ago | (#35096886)

This reminds me of this story [wfsb.com] , where a teacher who appeared on the Howard Stern show for a contest (ugliest guy and hottest wife) was fired for it. It seems that the state has no problem firing people they don't like.

I agree! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35096898)

Facebook is both stupid and distracting on so many fronts. I sincerely hope that more companies and agencies take this approach. And if the account is PRIVATE...instant suspension.

Mark Zuckerberg...you are filth promoting filth.

Public speech is not private (1)

makkura (1276346) | more than 3 years ago | (#35096928)

A lot of companies seem to be doing this sort of thing. Though facebook entries are almost always about someone's life outside of work they are public posts so it is in a vague area where it isn't actually part of the person's private life and thus tends to get censored this way.

Not so sure... (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097832)

I think if you were hounded by the paparazzi as much as Jennifer Aniston, you might have a different take on the issue.

Free speech is pretty well misunderstood (2)

Moof123 (1292134) | more than 3 years ago | (#35096942)

You are free to say anything you want, and free to feel the consequences.

Folks on the private side can get fired for not following a companies PR policies on even non-defamatory public comments (usually translated to mean that anything you say publicly about a company while employed there must be approved first). Public entities are a little different, and are covered by different laws, but the general rule stands that bad mouthing the hand that feeds you is not smart.

Whistle blowing for real grievances, safety issues, and illegal acts are a different story, and it is unlikely that laws such as this preempt whistle blowing laws.

Story summary is pretty well misunderstood (1)

fonos (847221) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097526)

But these are city employees, not people working for private companies.

Re:Story summary is pretty well misunderstood (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35097846)

It shouldn't matter, they're still employers making a policy for their employees.

No problem (1)

hort_wort (1401963) | more than 3 years ago | (#35096962)

People can just focus their rage on the *expletive* *expletive* *expletive* good for *expletive* *expletive* city council.

*expletive* those guys.

Standard stuff (2)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 3 years ago | (#35096972)

It's generally understood that you don't badmouth your employer, even if you work for the government.

...as yourself, of course...

Re:Standard stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35097046)

It's generally understood that you don't badmouth your employer, even if you work for the government.

...as yourself, of course...

When you are a citizen of said Government and an employee, where does your rights as a citizen end and your role as an employee begin?

This isn't the same as working for "Big Corp, Inc" and posting shit about their business practices.

Re:Standard stuff (0)

purpledinoz (573045) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097116)

And as a citizen, you should not criticize your government.

Re:Standard stuff (1)

Phaedrus420 (860578) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097780)

Unless you give a crap.
From Merriam Webster:
transitive verb
1: to consider the merits and demerits of and judge accordingly : evaluate
It is my job, or obligation, as a voter, to do exactly that. I say "my" job, because I have to assume you live under some dictator and fear becoming disappeared, with that attitude.

At-will employment (1)

handy_vandal (606174) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097002)

At-will employment [wikipedia.org] :

"[A] doctrine of American law that defines an employment relationship in which either party can break the relationship with no liability, provided there was no express contract for a definite term governing the employment relationship and that the employer does not belong to a collective bargaining group (i.e., has not recognized a union). Under this legal doctrine:

“any hiring is presumed to be "at will"; that is, the employer is free to discharge individuals "for good cause, or bad cause, or no cause at all," and the employee is equally free to quit, strike, or otherwise cease work."

Re:At-will employment (1)

Port1080 (515567) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097050)

State employment laws would in this case be trumped by the federal constitution, since the employer is a government entity and the employee therefore has expanded rights to criticize his/her employer. If this were a private employer, you'd be correct, but in this case, it's irrelevant.

Re:At-will employment (1)

rjstanford (69735) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097254)

What part of "[The US] Congress shall make no law..." do you think applies to the State? Besides, an employment policy is different than a law anyway.

Re:At-will employment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35097364)

The 14th amendment makes the 1st apply to the states via the incorporation doctrine.

Re:At-will employment (1)

rjstanford (69735) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097740)

It still doesn't make a policy making an offer of employment contingent on certain behaviors the equivalent of a law that applies to all people in the State now, does it?

another taste of southern hipocracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35097058)

it's Alabama people.... the First Amendment there is second to the right to close-mindedness. Rule of employment my ass, as a public job position the only rules of employment should be drug free, citizen and free criminal record. That state is as a whole against BIG GOVERNMENT.... I guess only when it doesn't suit their need

Re:another taste of southern hipocracy (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097224)

Why Drug free? Seems like controlling what you can ingest is big government talk.

Re:another taste of southern hipocracy (1)

Xaositecte (897197) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097500)

Assuming he means illegal drugs, regardless of your opinion on whether or not they should be legal, being a habitual user shows the same disregard for the law as failing the "free criminal record" qualifier he mentioned.

Ideally, the only thing the employer actually cares about is the individual in question hasn't gotten caught meaning they're less likely to be a headache for HR.

Anniston (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35097090)

Their town's name can be pronounced "Anus-Town". Of course they're going to be thin-skinned.

It's about time!!!! (2)

Rivalz (1431453) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097132)

I think its about time city officials officially get paid to browse facebook during business hours.
Now if they could just find some reason to keep their farmville farms in top shape while monitoring other city workers crops.

Re:It's about time!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35097190)

Big Brother and Grandparents will signal the end of the Facebook era.
Nostradamus predicted it on his wikipedia page.

meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35097180)

if you worked for XYZ and kept screaming profanities about XYZ all day every day, you wouldn't expect to work there long

posting stuff online is like screaming that stuff out in public

post bad things about your employer online, don't expect to work there long

what's the problem? you obviously have a poor attitude towards your employer so clearly they're better off hiring someone less the attitude.

Son of a bitch (4, Insightful)

Vyse of Arcadia (1220278) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097226)

It's never a good thing to see my home state on Slashdot, let alone my home town.

I have to say, I don't like this policy. One is not generally supposed to badmouth one's employer, but badmouthing one's government is patriotic and should be encouraged. That's how things get fixed.

Re:Son of a bitch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35097352)

Yep...Mobile, AL here

Re:Son of a bitch (1)

Wocka_Wocka (1895714) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097548)

Looks like you need to change your username to Vyse of Anniston.

Things not to put on your face book page (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35097278)

1) Don't put tons of personal information that can completely identify you.
2) Don't put your face on your page.

busted from the get-go (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35097718)

I say, how dare you sir! Defaming the fine town of Anniston by implying it was in Alabama.

Consequences (3, Informative)

Bobfrankly1 (1043848) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097284)

Anyone care to educate these clowns on the existence of the First Amendment?

First Amendment allows you can say whatever you like, with few exceptions. It does not, however, protect you from being responsible for the consequences of what you said. If you are badmouthing your employer on a publicly visible page with your name attached, you are committing career suicide, regardless of your employer. They can either get rid of you, or make it miserable for you to maintain your employment. If you must vent, do it offline, or privatize your page and be sure you don't have co-workers as "friends". That's being responsible, and shielding yourself from these consequences so many forget about.

Re:Consequences (4, Informative)

Port1080 (515567) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097390)

If you are a government employee, the 1st amendment actually does [umkc.edu] protect you to some degree. Your advice is absolutely correct if you're privately employed, but government employees have more protections when it comes to issues like this.

I work at the mayors office in Anniston (2)

ohzero (525786) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097314)

and this place sucks a seriously huge bag of dicks. Wait, they only monitor facebook right?

Re:I work at the mayors office in Anniston (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35097546)

and this place sucks a seriously huge bag of dicks.
Wait, they only monitor facebook right?

I live in this town too, As if we don't have enough problems with people around here going hungry an looking for work that will never come, now we have to waste our time an effort on facebook an what a employee does in his off time. I live right on one of the main streets in town an I see homeless people that are facing starvation an frostbite on a daily basis. I tried to call mayor gene robinson, but he's dodging his phone like a plague. I think everyone that feels this is the stupidest thing you've seen in a long should give him a call and or email, here's his contact info.

Gene D. Robinson
Mayor

P.O. Box 2168
Anniston, AL 36202
256-231-7691
citycouncil@annistonal.gov

I'm sorry, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35097330)

When I come home at the end of the day, I have every right to say what I want about whomever I want. If that means I say something that could be potentially damaging to your reputation..... well, you shouldn't have been doing such a B.S. job to begin with. Your money is NOT hush money.

Good thing Alabama's an at-will state (3, Interesting)

anyGould (1295481) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097376)

.. they'll never actually fire someone for badmouthing the city - they'll just terminate your employment.

I'll never understand why people thought giving companies the ability to fire for "no" reason was a good thing - all it does is let them fire you for *any* reason (legal or not)

Re:Good thing Alabama's an at-will state (2)

Burdell (228580) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097954)

You are free to quit your job for any reason (or for no reason), so why shouldn't the company have an equal right to terminate your employment?

I'm confused (2)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097426)

Somebody explain to me again how Facebook guarantees the name you sign up for a Facebook account with is your real name and is traceable to your employer. Because you know, anybody stupid enough to use their real name when criticizing their employer probably should be fired for having bad judgement!

Right to work (1)

Dishwasha (125561) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097550)

This isn't really a first amendment issue. You have the right to free speech. They (potentially) have a right to fire you. Fortunately for the employees in this case, unlike Texas where I live, Alabama is a right to work state which would prevent the city in this case from firing an employee for personal comments unless they exposed internal state affairs http://www.nrtw.org/c/alrtwlaw.htm [nrtw.org] . IANAL.

my advice: (1)

buddyglass (925859) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097574)

Anyone care to educate these clowns on the existence of the First Amendment?"

Physician: heal thyself.

Individual rights/responsibilities (1)

U8MyData (1281010) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097792)

If the City is afraid of someone airing dirty laundry good. They should be; they are accountable for their actions. If they are afraid of the one or two nut jobs out there making a bad name for everyone else, say so and let it work itself out. Something like, "The comments of employees are in no way a reflection of of the City of Blah." Rights are not something easily "un-eroded"

I thought it was... (1)

Grizzley9 (1407005) | more than 3 years ago | (#35097834)

Jennifer. But somehow it didn't match up with Alabama. Besides why is she reading my FB anyway? /tinfoil

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