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Feds Settle Case of Woman Fired Over Facebook Posts

Roblimo posted more than 3 years ago | from the keep-your-yap-shut-about-keeping-your-employees'-yaps-shut dept.

Facebook 316

Mr.Intel writes "Employers should think twice before trying to restrict workers from talking about their jobs on Facebook or other social media. That's the message the government sent on Monday as it settled a closely watched lawsuit against a Connecticut ambulance company that fired an employee after she went on Facebook to criticize her boss in 2009."

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316 comments

Ruling doesn't affect Internet blocking (2, Interesting)

ThreePhones (1878176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147086)

This says that companies can't stop employees from commenting using their own device on their own time. It doesn't require them to provide access to social media sites at work.

Re:Ruling doesn't affect Internet blocking (3, Informative)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147096)

Nor should it. A company should be able to block, or not block, anything they want on company property.

Re:Ruling doesn't affect Internet blocking (3, Insightful)

iammani (1392285) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147146)

Agreed! But they should not be able fire people for criticizing their bosses or their employer.

Re:Ruling doesn't affect Internet blocking (2)

TWX (665546) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147170)

Right, as long as they don't do it on company equipment, and to an extent, doing it on company time while on one's own equipment could also be grounds for termination, though that would be because the employee is slacking off on the clock instead of working. This would probably only really apply to hourly employees.

Re:Ruling doesn't affect Internet blocking (3, Interesting)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147910)

But then the nature of what they say shouldn't be considered.

Firing someone for using facebook at work would seem a little extreme. A simple request to stop doing that would be considered a more measured first response.

Re:Ruling doesn't affect Internet blocking (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147180)

That really depends. If there are NDA's or similar privacy/confidentiality agreements in place, surely those should still stand, right?

(Within the limits that they cannot be enforced where the company is breaking the law)

Re:Ruling doesn't affect Internet blocking (4, Funny)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 3 years ago | (#35148148)

If your boss being an asshole is a trade secret, that's a big red flag.

Re:Ruling doesn't affect Internet blocking (3, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#35148230)

There's this old joke that in the GDR the reason it was illegal to say that the politbureau is inapt and incompetent wasn't slander, it was giving out state secrets.

And, bluntly, I have been working in a few companies that knew quite well that they were doing a bad job and used NDAs to keep that from leaking. You really start to look down at "professionals" when the only thing that makes them "professional" is that they do it for money.

Re:Ruling doesn't affect Internet blocking (4, Interesting)

mc6809e (214243) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147318)

So if one of my employees writes somewhere that he thinks I'm a moron or he insults my wife or spreads nasty rumors about my sex life I just have to keep happily giving him my money?

That's crazy.

Re:Ruling doesn't affect Internet blocking (2, Insightful)

NiceGeek (126629) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147350)

Welcome to freedom of speech, don't want someone to call you a moron? Don't act like one.

Re:Ruling doesn't affect Internet blocking (2, Informative)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147582)

Yeah, freedom of speech doesn't trump freedom of association. Nor does it apply to private individuals. Your entire outlook on life is coddled and ridiculous.

Re:Ruling doesn't affect Internet blocking (2, Informative)

darth dickinson (169021) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147636)

Freedom of speech also implies dealing with the consequences of said free speech.

Re:Ruling doesn't affect Internet blocking (2)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#35148080)

Not sure how that works. Doesn't that mean you have freedom of speech in every country, it's just that the consequence may be your execution?

Re:Ruling doesn't affect Internet blocking (2)

Xaositecte (897197) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147912)

Continuing to employ someone who calls you a moron is moronic.

Re:Ruling doesn't affect Internet blocking (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 3 years ago | (#35148600)

I'd keep them in employ just because they actually had the balls to do such a thing.

Even more so if they did it to my face, hell I'd give them a raise.

Re:Ruling doesn't affect Internet blocking (5, Insightful)

_KiTA_ (241027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147360)

So if one of my employees writes somewhere that he thinks I'm a moron or he insults my wife or spreads nasty rumors about my sex life I just have to keep happily giving him my money?

That's crazy.

Yes, that's exactly what this states. Because his private conversations in a private place, or even his public conversations in a public place, on his or her own time, are absolutely none of your business.

From a professional standpoint.

Just like if one of your employees went to a bar after work and was ranting about you. You would have no justification in firing them for their behavior off the clock like that.

You are paying for your employee's time, knowledge, and skills. You have to earn their loyalty and respect.

Re:Ruling doesn't affect Internet blocking (2, Insightful)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147586)

Bullshit. Writing something on Facebook is publishing. If I take out an add in my local newspaper saying my company sucks and I hate them, they have every right to fire my ass.

Re:Ruling doesn't affect Internet blocking (3, Interesting)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147790)

I think you are wrong.

Putting something in print is "publishing" it and thus you extend that to "putting something on Facebook is publishing because it uses text and it is observable by the public". This is IMO false. A status update on Facebook isn't publishing, at least not in the same way that putting an ad in the paper or writing a newspaper article is publishing, nor is it like writing a lengthy blog post. It is more like saying something in public, only you are doing it with text.

Also, where you live it might be legal to randomly fire people (I know certain US states think it's perfectly reasonable to allow companies to fire you for no reason at all), in a lot of places someone writing something bad about their employer in the paper might be likely to end up with them fired, if the bad things claimed in the paper are false, if they are correct it is more likely that the employer will be afraid to fire the employee because they know the employee will be back with a union-paid lawyer to discuss the unlawful firing of an employee. There are plenty of laws protecting whistleblowers.

Re:Ruling doesn't affect Internet blocking (1)

mazarin5 (309432) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147854)

I think you are wrong.

Putting something in print is "publishing" it and thus you extend that to "putting something on Facebook is publishing because it uses text and it is observable by the public". This is IMO false. A status update on Facebook isn't publishing, at least not in the same way that putting an ad in the paper or writing a newspaper article is publishing, nor is it like writing a lengthy blog post. It is more like saying something in public, only you are doing it with text.

The employee isn't necessarily publishing, but they are making criticism available.

</RIAA>

Re:Ruling doesn't affect Internet blocking (5, Informative)

Xaositecte (897197) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147948)

I didn't think you were right at first, but it turns out you are!

The legal arguement in this case was:

Lafe Solomon, the board’s counsel, said: “This is a fairly straightforward case under the National Labor Relations Act — whether it takes place on Facebook or at the water cooler, it was employees talking jointly about working conditions, in this case about their supervisor, and they have a right to do that.”

That act gives workers a federally protected right to form unions, and it prohibits employers from punishing workers — whether union or nonunion — for discussing working conditions or unionization.

Additionally, this is a federal labor law, so it applies even in states with At Will employment laws.

Re:Ruling doesn't affect Internet blocking (3, Insightful)

jeff4747 (256583) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147378)

Nope. Libel and slander are still on the books. Not to mention there's plenty of ways to fire them without bringing up their online behavior.

Re:Ruling doesn't affect Internet blocking (4, Informative)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147534)

Exactly, in the eyes of the legal system you cannot punish them as a boss, you must address it as if it were your neighborhood posting those things.

Re:Ruling doesn't affect Internet blocking (1)

icannotthinkofaname (1480543) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147828)

Of course that's crazy. The more reasonable solution, obviously, is to happily give your attorney your money in order to sue the guy for defamation. However, this only works if what the guy says is demonstrably false, so if you really are a moron* and what the guy says about your wife and your sex life really is true, you're SOL.

Disclaimer: IANAL.

* Wait, if he thinks you're a moron, you may still be SOL, no matter how non-moron you are. He can believe whatever he wants. It's if he starts spreading these lies as facts that you should start giving your attorney your money.

Re:Ruling doesn't affect Internet blocking (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 3 years ago | (#35148586)

Are you kidding?

First, if he thinks you're a moron and says as much - not to your face, but on their own private facebook page - then as far as this particular jurisdiction that is indeed true. But honestly, firing someone for bitching about their boss (which I imagine a hell of a lot of people do regularly) is petty at best.

If someone is rude to your face (and you have witnessess) you can get away with terminating someone for insubordination and/or gross insubordination.

If someone spreads rumors about you that they deliberately know not to be true (and not idly passing along gossip), they may be liable for libel or slander. Not only could you most probably fire them, but you might have a civil lawsuit against them.

And lastly, there's loads of creative management types who can terminate someone with a non-specific reason. Terminate the entire department but only transfer *some* of the staff (unloading some of the ones they want to get rid of due to "cost overruns" or "cutting back"), laying off him/her because they've been there the longest (or the shortest), etc. Anyone who's remotely competent can come up with a reason that would probably stand up in court.

However, if someone is saying you're an asshole, then either they're unhappy with their workload or work environment (which is something you should personally study and attempt to fix), unhappy with your leadership (which is something you'd personally have to resolve - are you being a poor leader?), or unhappy with the fact they actually have to, you know, do stuff to get paid (can their asses!)

Personal experience speaking here, but nine times out of ten when I hear "Oh, the boss in an asshole" I usually can see why they mean it clear as day. This guy takes out his problems on his co-workers, he picks on this one person, etc. So again (in my experience), if one of your employee's genuinely believes you're an asshole, you're probably an asshole.

IANAL, personal opinions only herein.

Well in that case... (5, Insightful)

mfh (56) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147106)

No just kidding I fucking love my job.

TBH, I think employers in the States are a little presumptuous over the lives of those who work for them.

Meddling with your employees only turns them against you. Stop it.

If you are worried about what people will say about you over social networking sites, then it's time to have better policies that make sense to everyone, and consider your employees first, but this doesn't cover disloyalty, so if you work for Pepsi or Coke and you drink the other company's products on your social media you could still be fired.

Re:Well in that case... (2)

TWX (665546) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147192)

I really don't think that something like using a competitor's products instead of products from one's own company would result in too many lost jobs, unless one's job specifically was for doing promotions. Even in that case, I'd think it would apply to a paid promoter providing said product, not simply consuming it. If one is at a social event and the competitor's product is the only one available (as is common with exclusivity agreements with vendors) then it may not be possible to have one's company's own product.

I'd be that there's existing caselaw on such matters.

Beer companies will fire you (3, Interesting)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147344)

if you're seen drinking a competitors beer. Plus there's been several stories of people fired for political bumper stickers because the company owner didn't agree (it's always right wing bosses firing left wings employees too...).

I'm surprised this woman could fight. Looks like she won because of Union laws. Once again, yay for Unions.

Re:Beer companies will fire you (1, Insightful)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 3 years ago | (#35148094)

Plus there's been several stories of people fired for political bumper stickers because the company owner didn't agree (it's always right wing bosses firing left wings employees too...).

Care to provide some support for that claim? Or does it not need support since anyone who doesn't worship the DNC is automatically evil and doesn't need any proof before crucifying them?

Re:Beer companies will fire you (1)

nosferatu1001 (264446) | more than 3 years ago | (#35148298)

What makes you think the democrats can be considered "left wing"?

Slightly less rabidly right leaning does not make you left wing. Not by a long shot

Re:Beer companies will fire you (4, Funny)

prichardson (603676) | more than 3 years ago | (#35148134)

I seriously doubt that if the owner of Lake Louie [lakelouie.com] caught one of his employees enjoying the latest concoction from Dogfish Head [dogfish.com] that there would be any problem. People who make beer know how to enjoy and appreciate beer, even if they didn't make it.

Maybe you meant those companies advertise beer but actually bottle alcoholic horse urine? Since Budweiser and Miller both bottle the same thing, I could see why they might get a little upset if one of their employees was drinking horse urine from the other company.

Re:Well in that case... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35147276)

I came when I saw your userid.

Re:Well in that case... (4, Funny)

IAN (30) | more than 3 years ago | (#35148096)

I came when I saw your userid.

Multiple orgasms ahoy.

what are you serious? (1)

alienzed (732782) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147358)

What? Are you serious?

Re:Well in that case... (3, Interesting)

Libertarian001 (453712) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147632)

There's no such thing as "loyalty" to a brand for an employee. If Pepsi expects me to drink just Pepsi products regardless of the forum or venue that I'm attending then I'll be submitting a claim for cost plus time. That's a minimum two hours travel and two hours work, and there's a good chance it'll be overtime. And I'm claiming mileage as well. Oh, and my corporate-shill rate is higher than my just-doing-my-job rate. I'll consume whatever I damn well please and they're just going to have to get over it.

Re:Well in that case... (2)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#35148264)

Hold it. Me and my employer have a contract. I sell him my knowledge, my time, my experience, my workforce. In return, he gives me money. He neither bought, nor were they for sale, my beliefs, my ideals, my interests or even my loyalty. The latter may be given freely on top of the package if I feel like it. And usually it is if the company's ideals, beliefs and interests correspond with mine.

If a company does not understand the difference between what's for sale on a work contract and what's not, it's time to go to a company that does.

Re:Well in that case... (0)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#35148438)

No, you misunderstood. You do NOT love your job. You hate your job and you should post that on every forum and especially on FB (since it has worked in court). You should post it every week, just in case.

This way if you get fired you can always point at those postings and require that the employer either keeps you or pays you money, after all, you have uncle Sam's guarantee that you can't be fired. (that's what this ruling really means.)

Take advantage of this situation.

---

Now, sarcasm off. It's as if MORE reasons were needed never to hire Americans.

Direct response is a much better alternative (1)

yuhong (1378501) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147108)

IMO directly responding is a much better alternative, and likely will be allowed.

Pretty Obvious. (1)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147130)

isn't this pretty obvious? Telling people what opinions they can and can't express in their own time is not going to go down well.

Re:Pretty Obvious. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35147174)

So if the senior vice president of Intel gets on Facebook and says that the CEO is an idiot, he shouldn't be fired?

Re:Pretty Obvious. (2)

Mr Z (6791) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147214)

Probably not. At least, not for that. However, I would be surprised if it wasn't also a "career limiting move."

Re:Pretty Obvious. (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 3 years ago | (#35148244)

CEO probably can't fire the Senior VP unilaterally anyway. Regardless, the I don't think the NLRA applies to management.

Re:Pretty Obvious. (1)

pacinpm (631330) | more than 3 years ago | (#35148346)

It can be covered by NDA because it would be revealing of company secrets.

Correct rulling (4, Insightful)

delirium of disorder (701392) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147162)

Concerted activity is protected regardless of the medium of communication. In order for workers to organize to improve their lives, they must be free to discuss wages or conditions without facing retaliation from their bosses. In practice this is rarely the case, especially since most workers lack a union to back up their rights. It's good that the courts didn't take capital's side for once.

Re:Correct rulling (0)

gblfxt (931709) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147432)

I would disagree, this sounds more pro-capital. An employer who has nothing better to do than browse facebook sounds like a recipe for disaster business-wise.

Re:Correct rulling (1)

Dr Herbert West (1357769) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147614)

Why is it pro-capital, rather than pro free speech?

It's not for the courts to decide whether or not a business is run poorly-- only illegally. I think delirium referred to "taking 'captial's side" in terms of issuing a decision that would restrict worker's freedoms in order to benefit a "captialist" enterprise.

Re:Correct rulling (1)

gblfxt (931709) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147864)

Well, because free speech is good for business, stifling personal freedoms is bad for business. I don't see why personal freedoms has to be at odds with good business opportunities.

From the definition at wikipedia (i know, their souces suck):
"Capitalism is an economic system in which the means of production are privately owned and operated for a private profit; decisions regarding supply, demand, price, distribution, and investments are made by private actors in the free market; profit is sent to owners who invest in businesses, and wages are paid to workers employed by businesses and companies."

In no part of that is there a clause for for taking away personal freedoms or being greedy. I have worked with a lot of companies and most have not been out to get anyone, they usually do business with a sense of do no harm. But like individuals, there are sociapathic companies that have no sense of morality, and give the rest of capitalists a bad name.

Re:Correct rulling (4, Informative)

Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147450)

As a union delegate, and I've defended a number of people who have had their jobs threatened because of status updates.

Fortunately our courts (in Australia) have upheld that if it's in the public interest and truthful, it's fine. However, most people without strong representation who are unaware of their rights usually end up with formal warnings or fired.

Seems the same "libertarian" /.'ers... (1)

unassimilatible (225662) | more than 3 years ago | (#35148100)

who are happy about Big Nanny Government coming to their rescue in the workplace, are the people hailing aspects of Big Bad Government's Patriot Act expiring in the next article. Another case of Slashdot's "libertarian for me, statism for the other guy."

Re:Seems the same "libertarian" /.'ers... (1)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 3 years ago | (#35148216)

One is about freedom of speech ... and the government protecting it

One is about freedom... and the government taking it away ...

No inconsistency here ...?

Re:Seems the same "libertarian" /.'ers... (1)

trickyD1ck (1313117) | more than 3 years ago | (#35148626)

There is also this vile, hateful, racist concept of "freedom of association." There used to be a time when one could choose with whom to work. Thanfully, noone protects this freedom now.

If I'm the one compensating them... (3, Interesting)

Just Another Poster (894286) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147194)

...I should be able to fire them, for whatever reason I choose. I guess that's the way it was before freedom of association in America was killed off. It may be bad business, and I personally wouldn't want to work for anyone who had such a stringent policy, but any employer should be free to make such decisions, and be free to either benefit or suffer the consequences.

Re:If I'm the one compensating them... (2)

the_womble (580291) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147274)

The problem with that is that you then get people firing someone because they are black, female, gay etc. Its the employees who suffer most of the consequences, especially at times or high unemployment and in low skilled jobs.

Re:If I'm the one compensating them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35147596)

Those are protected classes, and outside the scope of what we're discussing.

Re:If I'm the one compensating them... (1, Interesting)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147598)

Amazing, you mean these companies can fire people and not rehire someone else? Why are they paying them to work in the first place, then?

It's a zero sum game, I don't care who they fire or why. If they need asses filling seats, someone will get paid for it. If Joe gets fired that's sad for him and his family..but wait, it's good news for Jane who now has a job and can feed her family.

Re:If I'm the one compensating them... (2, Insightful)

Required Snark (1702878) | more than 3 years ago | (#35148070)

So you fire someone for wearing the wrong tie to work? http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-0126-packer-fan-fired-20110126,0,3880241.story [latimes.com] Or expressing an opinion? http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/laplaza/2011/01/border-patrol-agent-fired-sues-views-drug-war-mexico.html [latimes.com] How about writing a political song and sending it out from your home account? http://www.newschannel5.com/story/12989255/coach-says-he-was-fired-because-of-conservative-song?redirected=true [newschannel5.com]

Being an employer does not give you the right to suspend the constitution. We are citizens, not slaves. Running a business does give to a license to be a tin god. The Founders of the US understood this, and they were willing to die for it. People in the middle east are dieing right now in order to have the right to freely express themselves. Your statement puts you firmly on the same side as King Gorge IV, Stalin, and the Taliban. How does it feel to be on their side? I think you fit right in.

Re:If I'm the one compensating them... (2)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147294)

No. Not until we have a social safety net that makes being fired not such a big deal. Otherwise there are too many people who would demand sexual favors and complete subservience from employees they knew to be in a precarious financial condition.

Re:If I'm the one compensating them... (4, Insightful)

crafty.munchkin (1220528) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147322)

following your line of thinking... so if the really hot secretary you hired won't blow you, you can fire her?

Re:If I'm the one compensating them... (1)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147994)

Something similar came to my mind, too.

Frankly, the original poster is right... but only in an environment where the worker can expect to be able to support himself and his family even if he was fired or chose to switch jobs.

This freedom would have to go both ways and not only from a legal standpoint. Since companies have strived to work more efficiently (meaning with less staff), expecting that everyone will alwaqys have a job has become naive. But as long as you, as an employee, cannot expect to find new income with only little delay, you will always be the weaker party in such a deal. Most companies can live without a few bodies for a few months if need be. A family of three, four or five can't just shrug off the loss of one income.

So while I agree that philosophically an employer should be able to fire you for whatever reason, our world just can't work like that without reverting to quasi-slavery.

That's why, among other reasons, I'd live four our governments to try basic income. It would be intriguing.

Re:If I'm the one compensating them... (1)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 3 years ago | (#35148004)

Ye gods, the mistakes I make early in the morning... I'd LOVE for our governments to try basic income...

Re:If I'm the one compensating them... (1)

hellop2 (1271166) | more than 3 years ago | (#35148046)

Yeah, I think that was precisely his point. Besides, who wants an ungrateful employee?

Re:If I'm the one compensating them... (1)

jeff4747 (256583) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147416)

I guess that's the way it was before freedom of association in America was killed off.

So it was better back when you could limit your employee's freedom of association?

Re:If I'm the one compensating them... (4, Insightful)

JumperCable (673155) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147594)

If I'm the one compensating them I should be able to fire them, for whatever reason I choose.

The problem with that is that if you are working for someone else, as does 99% of the working US citizens, suddenly you have to watch what you say on your own time. I find that incredibly uncomfortable. In fact a large percentage of me speech is throttled because I am well aware that my employer can fire me for almost any reason or for no stated reason at all.

Our life off the clock should be ours to live as we wish. How many of us work for people who have conservative christian leanings? What if that employer is backing some serious overly conservative bible thumping organizations that are trying to limit people's rights and freedoms. I would like to be able to openly protest and fight against those efforts while not at work without fear of being fired.

Re:If I'm the one compensating them... (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 3 years ago | (#35148088)

Actuuuallllly... when you're working for a conservative Christian you can be fired if it's for religious reasons. Aka, if a minister is seen drunk the church can fire them since it violates the religious standards of conduct. But it's limited to church employees.

Re:If I'm the one compensating them... (0)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147772)

That's right. If I want to fire Jim because he is black, that's my god damn right.

If Joe won't swear on the Bible that he's going to vote for my choice in the next election then it is my right to fire his ass.

If Bill decided to convert to Budhism it is my right to fire him.

If my employees decide to exercise their freedom of association it is my right, no it is my duty as an American to fire their asses.

Re:If I'm the one compensating them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35148136)

man, I hope that's sarcasm

Re:If I'm the one compensating them... (1)

Eivind (15695) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147872)

The problem with that is that it sidesteps any and all worker-protection laws completely, particularily in areas an times with high unemployment.

It's infact NOT okay to fire people over race, over sex, over age, over religion, over a host of other things that are irrelevant to the performance of a worker. We have actual *laws* decided by democratically elected politicians which state in clear terms, that these actions are not okay.

These laws, are completely moot if combined with totally at-will employment. Because in that case, you still can't say: "We're overstaffed, and so we need to get rid of someone - you're fired because you're black" - but that's scant comfort if instead the boss *can* just point at the black guy and say "you're fired" (no reason given or required)

Re:If I'm the one compensating them... (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147898)

We've tried that.

Seems to end up with the employees being essentially slaves, easily bullied into doing things outside the contract agreement. Because the employer has such a strong bargaining position this is not a reciprocal effect.

Goes both ways? (2)

Weirsbaski (585954) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147244)

Does it go both ways? The boss is free to criticize their employees on facebook too?

I'm thinking maybe American Medical Response of Connecticut is about to have less to say about the web, and more to say on it.

Re:Goes both ways? (3, Interesting)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147266)

Of course they do. The problem was they always had that freedom while the underlings didn't.

Re:Goes both ways? (1)

Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147438)

I hear Steve from Accounting goes both ways.

Now I'm waiting for that call from HR.

Re:Goes both ways? (1)

JumperCable (673155) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147610)

I hear Steve from Accounting goes both ways.

Sometimes the back streets are a faster way to work. Especially when the interstate is congested. Honestly it's almost a coin toss as to which way is the most efficient.

Re:Goes both ways? (3, Funny)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147490)

That's right. Due to this oppressive legal ruling, you can no longer fire your boss for sharing their negative opinion of you online.

Re:Goes both ways? (1)

Dr Herbert West (1357769) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147616)

+1 Hilarious

Re:Goes both ways? (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#35148276)

As always, everybody on the left misses the point. This, as all other regulations that can cause in employers getting sued, will have another chilling effect that will prevent more people from being hired in the first place.

Just like minorities are hired less by smaller companies for that same reason, that they can sue on various legal grounds guaranteed by the government if they are fired, same here.

You want to work for me? Great, what's the name?

Checking you on FB etc. You are there? Forget it. I am NOT hiring you.

Re:Goes both ways? (1)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 3 years ago | (#35148410)

Checking you on FB etc. You are there? Forget it. I am NOT hiring you.

Have fun working alone.

Re:Goes both ways? (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#35148476)

Well actually, I don't have FB account but if anybody wants to be MORE employable in USA now, they should get rid of theirs or never open one, at least not under their real name.

Also you could apply the same argument to the small business after all the Civil Rights Acts and other various cases that protect women/minorities from being fired - have fun working in all male, all white company, right?

Of-course there is an alternative, like in European countries: you end up with only large companies, they all are heavily subsidized and regulated, but your choices of employment are diminished and your ability to open your own business are extremely limited. This eventually leads to less and less economic activity and higher and higher levels of unemployment and reliance on government.

Well, actually USA is really in the same position - more and more gov't guaranteed/protected/subsidized monopolies and less and less private capital and enterprise.

With all the SS and inflation nonsense more people are leaving US to go work and open businesses somewhere else.

The decision in this story is really a very minor thing compared to all the other regulations, but while with other regulations employers could avoid hiring certain groups that are guaranteed government protection, this new decision sets a very bad precedent - anybody can have FB account and if you don't want to get fired or want a large settlement all you need is to post periodically how much of a low life scumbag your boss is all over the Internet.

Eventually it WILL lead to people working alone or in large gov't protected monopolies only.

Proud moment for the US Constitution (0)

WarmNoodles (899413) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147300)

My opinion is;
It should have been obvious to the pointy haired bosses they would loose the case when their lawyers explained the territory in which they found themselves was not a 3rd world country. Pointy haired bosses everywhere should know if your going to be a petty dictator, find a 3rd world country to be it in.

Hooyaaa out to the founders of the US Constitution!
This is where the foundation of US freedom shines brightest.

Guess what she wrote they did not want to refute and it must not have been malicious or surely a competent lawyer would have advised them to they would have advised to bring slander libel suit before loosing the war of public opinion.

Talk about profound and poor legal decisions on the part of the pointy haired boss & lawyers.

Re:Proud moment for the US Constitution (1)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147608)

This has absolutely nothing to do with the Constitution. Not sure what you're blathering about.

Since when does the Constitution apply to (1)

unassimilatible (225662) | more than 3 years ago | (#35148106)

private employers?

It is a fine line (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35147392)

But if you talk crap about your employer in a public and identifiable forum then they should be allowed to fire you.

Free speech is free. There are consequences though for things said. Trash your friends, they wont be your friends, trash your boss, they wont be your boss anymore.

Re:It is a fine line (1)

NetNed (955141) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147546)

It's one thing to get caught saying such things about a friend, but when a employer is keeping tabs on a person's personal life outside work, then they are overstepping their boundaries. It's would be like saying the employer should be able to wiretap the employee's phone just in case they say something bad about the company. If you think that's cool, go move to a country where that is "cool"

Re:It is a fine line (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35147606)

Op AC here

Your analogy is wrong, I was specifically referring to publicly trashing your employer (and being identifiable as an employee)

It isn't wiretapping or keeping tabs when people jump on a public soap box and scream their feelings out.
It is very public.

Re:It is a fine line (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35147602)

But if you talk crap about your employer in a public and identifiable forum then they should be allowed to fire you.

Free speech is free. There are consequences though for things said. Trash your friends, they wont be your friends, trash your boss, they wont be your boss anymore.

If you talk about crap that is true, no the employer shouldn't.
If you talk crap that your employer thinks is false, there are enough avenues to sue you for defamation/slander or the like.

Re:It is a fine line (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35148306)

thrash black people, they won't be black people anymore

What are we allowed to say in "Work at Will" State (1)

JumperCable (673155) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147554)

I thought people who worked in "Work at Will" states could be fired for any reason (or no reason at all, so long as it didn't run up against discrimination laws. I thought Freedom of Speech only applied to the government's control, not private employers.

Re:What are we allowed to say in "Work at Will" St (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35147670)

It does, which is why so many of the "free speech" "proud day for the constitution" and various other posters of rhetoric are simply idiots that have never actually read the damn thing.

Re:What are we allowed to say in "Work at Will" St (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35147676)

I thought people who worked in "Work at Will" states could be fired for any reason (or no reason at all, so long as it didn't run up against discrimination laws. I thought Freedom of Speech only applied to the government's control, not private employers.

As someone, who was employed in such a state and recently fired (two weeks ago) I can, "Yes, you're right." They've got you by the balls, and unless you can irrefutably prove that you were fired because you are black/gay/tea party supporter/etc there is nothing you can do about it.

Re:What are we allowed to say in "Work at Will" St (2)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147726)

There is more to the law than just discrimination laws and the first amendment, in this case 29 U.S.C. 157 is the issue: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/uscode29/usc_sec_29_00000157----000-.html [cornell.edu]

"concerted activities" include discussing work related issues - punishing a worker for doing so is against the law (at least those not excluded from the Act such as independant contractors and government workers). And the NLRB was arguing that facebook posts about work related issues are under that blanket, and since they settled the employer in question obviously thinks that mightn't be dismissed at the first chance a judge gets.

Just because the state is "at will" doesn't mean employers get to ignore Federal law.

Re:What are we allowed to say in "Work at Will" St (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 3 years ago | (#35148622)

I thought Freedom of Speech only applied to the government's control

The text of the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Seems pretty clear; it only covers laws made by Congress (not even by the States as I read it, but IANAL) not the actions and policies of companies or individuals.

Even I knew the "Congress shall make no law" part at the start and I'm not even a Yank.

Negative attention (1)

techwreck (1992598) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147654)

It blows my mind that so many employers take such a heavy handed approach to attempting to control what people have to say about the company. What they fail to understand is that shutting down one medium just drives it to another or puts it behind closed doors. Instead they should focus on understanding what critics have to say and figuring out ways to improve. One of the most valuable tools any business owner can use to grow a business is unbiased feedback. If they put half the time and effort they do in attempting to silence opinions into creating an environment that breeds more positive buzz than criticism, they would have much less to worry about.

Re:Negative attention (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35148008)

There is a branch of Market Research that does this for its clients. They aggregate social networking (sort of like Google.com/realtime ) and give their clients feedback based on what people are saying about their company to their friends, family, et c. But that's a completely different story than the employees saying stuff over social networking. I work in marketing research, and we have to sign an NDA that we will not mention any of the clients we work for on social networking sites. But that's a bit different, too. I listen to people talk about their opinions of our clients all day every day. And technically I work for these companies. Anyway... it's different when it's employees talking bad about their company. Should they be able to fire you over it? Why not. Would you say it to the president of your company to their face? Would they fire you then? I know when I apply for jobs they may look at my facebook page. I don't have anything there I wouldn't want a potential employer or my current employer to know.

Re:Negative attention (1)

AlterRNow (1215236) | more than 3 years ago | (#35148500)

You might not put anything on there you don't want employers to know, but does that guarantee that someone else won't?

Always blabbing on Facebook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35147674)

Women are always blabbing on Facebook. Blab blab blab.

Lamebook (3, Funny)

mr100percent (57156) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147778)

Behold, Lamebook captured it all so well in one post [lamebook.com]

Re:Lamebook (1)

coofercat (719737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35148286)

Isn't the link to a completely different case, in a completely different country? TFA mentions a Connecticut ambulance company, but the link is to something that could very well be British (it mentions a P45 [wikipedia.org] ) , which I think is unique to the UK).

(IMHO, the example you link to is far less unreasonable - adding your boss as a 'friend' and then slagging them off isn't very bright, and if the boss's comment is anything to go by, there were other reasons to fire the employee, and the FB post was the 'last straw'. However, it's easy to comment when you don't know anything about it ;-)

Re:Lamebook (1)

mr100percent (57156) | more than 3 years ago | (#35148598)

Yes, I meant Lamebook captures the issue in an excellent example, not the actual posting in question.

Awesome (1)

Cant use a slash wtf (1973166) | more than 3 years ago | (#35148016)

Now I can freely criticise my boss and everything he does within the comfort and familiarity of Facebook. But really, would I be allowed to say this to his face? People don't seem to realise that posting a status update is pretty much the same as sending an Email to everyone who you have allowed to view your profile (which in some cases could be the whole world). Facebook status updates are not private conversation. If my boss overheard me constantly complaining to my fellow co-workers about how much of a dick he is, he would probably fire me and tell me to find a new boss. I would also feel like a bit of an idiot.

this is bad. (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#35148250)

How about this: do not say about your boss in public (and that's what FB is - a public forum) what you wouldn't be yelling out in the office.

However this is another chilling decision by the government and as every single other thing that gov't does when it creates more of these rules, when the employers can be taken to courts over firing people, this decision will only cause fewer people being employed.

If you are an employer, you'd think twice about employing people who have FB accounts now. Sure, that's a lot of people, so that's a lot of potential people who will NOT be hired.

Just like the entire fiasco of the Civil Rights Act: before the act, 85% of black youth (between ages of 16 and 24) had jobs. In fact their employment was much higher than employment of white youths. Past the Act, their employment was steadily declining and now 50% of black youths are unemployed. But who can argue that today there is more racism than before 1964? That would be quite a trick. No, instead what is happening is that small companies would rather not hire minorities at all rather than putting themselves into a position where they can be sued if they decide to fire that person.

When there is a government 'guarantee' of any kind, it becomes a moral hazard or a deterrent. It always backfires. In a country that is seeing higher and higher unemployment regulations about employment of people should be reduced (like all other business regulations) not increased.

Lame fb user (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35148378)

OMG, If you still think that facebook is a private chatroom you deserve being fired...

I only criticize my manager in private (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35148478)

Saying bad stuff about your manager in a public forum is bad for the company. What's bad for the company, is bad for you. Whenever I need to criticize my manager, I do it in private; just the two of us behind a closed door. I was once in a department, where one guy always tried to pick a fight with the manager in department meetings, and get others to join in an insurrection. Of course, the manager had no choice, but to assert his authority. So the guy never got any of his suggestions approved, even though they were valid. I, on the other hand, would talk to the manager in private, and he was always willing to listen.

Now, I once had a manager didn't want to take a few minutes to listen. So I voted with my feet, and moved to a different department.

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