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Worker Rights Extend To Facebook, Says NLRB 340

Posted by timothy
from the ends-at-my-nose dept.
wjousts writes "American Medical Response of Connecticut had a policy that barred employees from depicting the company 'in any way' on Facebook or other social media. The National Labor Relations Board has ruled that this policy runs afoul of the National Labor Relations Act, which gives employees the right to form unions and prohibits employers from punishing workers for discussing working conditions."
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Worker Rights Extend To Facebook, Says NLRB

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  • Sure...you can say/write whatever you want.

    If you write that you hate your boss...in a public forum...with your name...don't expect your boss to buy your lunch for you. ...and don't expect them to forget about that when it comes time to pick employees for layoffs.

    You can say/write whatever you want...just be ready to accept the consequences.

    -JJS

    • by contra_mundi (1362297) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @07:36AM (#34184802)
      With that logic, North Korea has freedom of speech.

      "You can say/write whatever you want...just be ready to accept the consequences."

      The consequence just happens to be capital punishment or forced labor for years.
      • by Kokuyo (549451)

        I think you're both right. One one hand, you can never truly speak your mind, unless you have absolute certainty, that no negative or positive consequences will follow.

        On the other hand, there's a difference between being critical about your government or someone you have to work with on a daily basis. It must, in turn, be your bosses freedom to fire you, if the personal differences run too deeply, right?

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by mcgrew (92797) *

          It must, in turn, be your bosses freedom to fire you, if the personal differences run too deeply, right?

          There are in fact worker protection laws. You can't be fired (legally, at least) "just because". They have to have a valid reason.

          Didn't anybody even read the summary??? The NLRB ruled that the boss can't fire you without just cause, and that trashing the boss on facebook isn't "just cause". They need a valid reason, like habitual lateness, no call no show, theft, drug use, etc.

          That doesn't mean that the

          • by Predius (560344)

            Depends on the state. Maine for example is an at will employment state. An employer can just decide "You're done" and you no longer have a job. There is no requirement for just cause. If you can prove it was due to something inappropriate you can bring a case, but the burden of proof is on the employee at that point.

          • by nedwidek (98930)

            You don't work in North Carolina, do you? In the US there is the concept of 'at will employment.'

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/At-will_employment [wikipedia.org]

            As a business owner we are told that the best course is to give NO reason when we fire someone. Giving reason can potentially come back to bite you.

            There are EEO protected classes, but that still doesn't stop people from being fired discrimination on these points. You need to bring a wrongful termination suit. You need to prove with evidence that you were fired for

          • Look up at-will employment. Yes, actually, they can fire you for w/e you want This is the case in Connecticut and the majority of other US states. The NLRB ruled that making it company policy that employees can't talk about the workplace outside of work was illegal, not that you can't be fired for w/e reason, including bashing your employer on Facebook. Just like Wal-Mart fires employees who so much as *mention* unions while at work. At-will employment is the backdoor through which employers sidestep employ
      • Speaking of consequences, I'm sure it was all high 5's, parades, hugs, and an extra sack of rice for the NK boys that sank the Cheonan - they'll live happily ever after.
        What are the consequences for a government that routinely threatens various countries with annihilation if they don't get food aid or money?

        Freedom of action does not always end with consequences.

      • by RsG (809189) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @08:13AM (#34185090)

        A distinction that's lost on many people is that "freedom of speech" in the US legal system applies to the government, not private entities. Put another way, North Korea is a bad point of comparison when talking about corporate policy.

        Now, should the protection of freedom of speech apply to corporate policy? I would say yes. In my ideal world, basic human rights would be encoded into the law in such a way that they cannot be circumvented by private entities in any way. But the law in reality does not say that this is the case.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by natehoy (1608657)

          There's a very fine line, though, when you're talking about private organizations and their willfully-employed workforce.

          Does my freedom of speech extend to, say, lying about something between myself and my employer in public? Selling or giving away their corporate databases? Detailing how cool our security system is including placement and models of cameras and door locking systems? Announcing that I had a really bad day and detailing the personal problems that someone else had that led to my bad day, i

          • >>>You'll get better traction reporting it to OSHA or someone who can do something about it, but whatever. Telling the truth should never have legal ramifications.

            Not really

            I've had two employers Demand to see my birth certificate, which violates federal law (a drivers license + SSI card is sufficient to prove I-9 citizenship), but reporting it to OSHA or the Dept.of Labor didn't accomplish squat. They told me that I was right and the employer was wrong, but all I achieved was a threat by the secu

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by DragonWriter (970822)

          A distinction that's lost on many people is that "freedom of speech" in the US legal system applies to the government, not private entities.

          A distinction that is lost on many people (including, all too often, the US courts) is that corporations are, in point of fact, creatures of government, not independently-existing private entities. The only independently-existing private

      • by Richard_at_work (517087) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .ecirpdrahcir.> on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @08:21AM (#34185136)
        Shouldn't the concept of consequence be part of the checks and balances involved in making the moral and ethical decision on whether or not you carry out the act of speech?
      • I hate to have to tell you this, but the First Amendment does not apply to your boss (unless he happens to work for the government).
        The First Amendment reads "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."

        Please note that it says "Congress shall make no law...", not "No one shall
      • >>>With that logic, North Korea has freedom of speech.

        The difference is that a government holds a Monopoly on power, so if you piss them off you will find yourself in jail. In contrast a corporation does not hold a monopoly. If your speech annoys ABC Company and you get fired, you can just move to one of the millions of other companies. It's the difference between Choice and non-choice.

        Of course this is why Comcast's heavy-handed punishment against users is so dangerous. In many areas comcast h

    • Exactly. Same applies if an employee points out a safety issue or some illegal practice by upper management. Expect to be first against the wall when the next 'downsize' happens. The right to be screwed over by your employer is an American ideal handed to us by God. We should cherish it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by wjousts (1529427)
        Wrong. There are laws to protect whistle blowers. If you blow the whistle and are later downsized, you may have a case for a lawsuit unless the company has documentation to show your consistent poor performance made downsizing you more logical than downsizing somebody else.
  • Oh look (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sakdoctor (1087155) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @07:30AM (#34184758) Homepage

    Another slashdot story that takes an established event/concept/thing and makes a big deal about it because somehow facebook/twitter/social-net-dujour is involved.

    I always wonder if these stories have organic origins, or bubbled up from some PR department.

    • Re:Oh look (Score:5, Insightful)

      by T Murphy (1054674) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @07:55AM (#34184932) Journal
      It's not Slashdot that is giving Facebook-related stories undue weight, the ambulance service in the story specifically had a rule about Facebook and social networking (the article is unclear if they added 'Facebook' or if the rule explicitly mentions it). It seems people out there (making dumb rules) really do think something is exceptional because it happened on social networking sites.

      It is often mentioned how rules and laws have to catch up with technology, but in the case of social networking, the old rules generally apply perfectly fine- except it seems people don't understand that. If anything, Slashdot's angle here isn't "it's interesting because it's on Facebook", but interest in how society has trouble adapting to technology.
      • Re:Oh look (Score:4, Insightful)

        by DerekLyons (302214) <(fairwater) (at) (gmail.com)> on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @11:35AM (#34187252) Homepage

        If anything, Slashdot's angle here isn't "it's interesting because it's on Facebook", but interest in how society has trouble adapting to technology.

        That's Slashdot's angle. The OP was coming from the "oh look, it's popular with the masses and as a Slashdotter I'm too cool for stuff popular with the masses" angle. The Slashdot hivemind positively loathes anything popular with the unwashed, uncool, ungeeky masses.
         
        The Slashdot editors are correct in posting these stories, because Facebook (and MySpace, and Live Journal, and other such sites) are part and parcel of the 'net and are technology... The OP is an idiot.

  • by Manip (656104) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @07:35AM (#34184796)
    Frankly I'm a little surprised - since in my experience employees are more or less slaves in the US. The entire legal structure seems set up for whatever is easiest and cheapest for employers to do whatever they wish. Employees can sue, and that is often the de-facto suggestion whenever anyone in the US has a problem, but frankly a lot of situations could be avoided if they had a strong legal framework like every other developed country.

    No holiday time, no sick leave, no maternity leave, no restrictions on hours worked, no mandated breaks, few health and safety regulations, can be fired without notice or reason, can legally discriminate, etc. It is like working in the third world. Between this and health care the US is low on my list of places I wish to work.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Corbets (169101)

      No holiday time, no sick leave, no maternity leave, no restrictions on hours worked, no mandated breaks, few health and safety regulations, can be fired without notice or reason, can legally discriminate, etc. It is like working in the third world. Between this and health care the US is low on my list of places I wish to work.

      Spoken like someone who's never worked in the US.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @07:47AM (#34184882)

        Spoken like someone who's never worked in the US.

        Spoken like someone who's never worked somewhere better.

      • by silentcoder (1241496) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @07:59AM (#34184972) Homepage

        >Spoken like someone who's never worked in the US.

        Yes we foreigners know that you get to try and negotiate such things in contracts - and if you're lucky enough to be going for a rare job you may get decent ones. We also know what it's like to have sane levels of these things set out in LAW, and negotiate for extras ON TOP OF that.
        My country requires every employer to give employees at least 14 days a year of holiday time. But I have 21 - I got to start negotiating above that, but even the factory janitor can at least get his 14 days.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Takichi (1053302)
          The US isn't a dumptruck you can throw blanket assessments on; it's a series of states with their own laws that extend those set federally. Besides, I think the main issue isn't that there aren't laws setup to protect workers, it's that they are often poorly enforced. Enforcement is carried out by state and federal attourneys general, and by individual lawsuits initiated by the public. Perhaps other countries are better at enforcement, or maybe the public is less inclined to put up with unfair practices.
      • by dkleinsc (563838) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @08:40AM (#34185242) Homepage

        Spoken like someone who's never worked in the US

        ... in a white-collar office job like yours.

        If you want a significantly different picture from your own employment experience, read about what was going on in the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia before the big accident. Or the many workers who are killed or maimed in preventable industrial accidents. Or the retail workers forced to work longer than the hours they put on their time card. Or the workers fired for trying to unionize. Or the workers fired for complaining about safety regulation violations. Or even better, get to know some blue-collar folks and hear about their life on the job.

        Assuming you're a techie of some sort, your job probably involves sitting comfortably in an office thinking, typing, and discussing. Most jobs are nothing like that.

        • by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @10:38AM (#34186396) Homepage Journal

          If you want a significantly different picture from your own employment experience, read about what was going on in the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia before the big accident. Or the many workers who are killed or maimed in preventable industrial accidents. Or the retail workers forced to work longer than the hours they put on their time card. Or the workers fired for trying to unionize. Or the workers fired for complaining about safety regulation violations. Or even better, get to know some blue-collar folks and hear about their life on the job.

          All those things are illegal, but the problem is the laws are laxly enforced when they're enforced at all.

          The mine "accident" was caused by an action by the company they'd been repeatedly fined for. The corporations consider these fines just a cost of doing business.

          Now, if a normal person breaks a law and someone dies as a result, they'll be charged with negligent homicide at the very least. I'm appalled that nobody in power at the mining company was criminally charged, but I'm not surprised.

      • by Twanfox (185252) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @08:56AM (#34185372)

        Unless my memory is faulty, holiday time and sick leave is an optional benefit that a company MAY provide, but is not required to. I'm not sure if maternity leave is codified into law, but there is the FMLA which allows for some UNPAID time off. To be honest, there really isn't any restriction on time worked. If your hourly, the company doesn't want to pay you overtime, but you could work it if they paid it (or if they're breaking the law and requesting it off-hours). Salaried folk I don't believe have an upper limit, and this is routinely exploited by employers. I was going to say mandatory breaks are set into law, but just a quick google search tells me that it isn't federal if it is, so it may just be my state. That and my state is an 'at-will' state of employment, which pretty much means yes, I could get fired for any reason (except for the rare case where you can prove discrimination).

        I hate to say it, but most of those points are actually accurate. Most of those things are not law, just common practice to provide. If an employer desired not to offer them (usually for factory-style positions), then they won't be held accountable in court for doing so.

        So did you actually work in the US too, or are you just assuming the benefits given to you are actually guaranteed, and not something nice the employer offered?

      • by TarPitt (217247)

        No holiday time, no sick leave, no maternity leave, no restrictions on hours worked, no mandated breaks, few health and safety regulations, can be fired without notice or reason, can legally discriminate, etc. It is like working in the third world. Between this and health care the US is low on my list of places I wish to work.

        Spoken like someone who's never worked in the US.

        Spoken like an American who has never held one of the millions of low-paid jobs making up the bulk of the US workforce.

    • by silentcoder (1241496) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @07:49AM (#34184892) Homepage

      Excuse me.
      I live in a third world country.
      We have mandatory minimum leave. We have a limit on hours worked (40 hours per week, max of 5 hours overtime - it's ILLEGAL to allow more, and if it happens you have to give the time back as time off in the SAME week to compensate), we have mandated 1-hour lunch breaks and mandated 15-minute coffee breaks at least once per 4 hours, we have complete health and safety coverage including a law that states that in the event of *any* injury on duty no matter how minor or severe the employer is legally liable for any and all direct and indirect medical expenses resulting from said injury (hence most employers have IOD insurance), employers are not allowed to discriminate (among other things this bans the creation of any rule that only applies to one gender, race etc), you aren't allowed to fire anybody unless they've had three written warnings, written warnings can only be issued after a hearing where the employee has the right to council...

      Sorry - but the US is actually WORSE than at least some third world countries when it comes to workers rights.

      Oh and in case you were wondering, our economy is growing and our corporations do just fine despite these laws.

      • by martas (1439879)
        WTF kind of 3rd world country is this? It sounds like France, for christ's sake! Seriously, if you have all that, maybe it's time to re-classify that country? I've lived in a third world country, and I've seen two kinds of relationships between employers and employees: family members, or slave-owner/slave.
        • by silentcoder (1241496) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @08:18AM (#34185122) Homepage

          This would be the Republic of South Africa.

          What makes it a third world country is this: 43% unemployment, 76% illiteracy, 82% of the population living below the official poverty line (that is below taxable income, with welfare sustainance from the other 18% - who earn salaries comparable to Europe - in fact most of us work for European countries who find they can pay us solid market related salaries and still save truckloads of money because of the favorable exchange rate).

          We have massive poverty, massive problems of all sorts to deal with. But our government relies for it's vote massively on the unions who include most of that 82% poor people as members, if the unions ever tell their members to vote for the opposition - this government couldn't possibly survive an election.
          Result: damn good labour laws, regardless of whether you are in the rich 18% or the poor 82%

          • by Notquitecajun (1073646) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @09:00AM (#34185412)
            Seeing those labor laws, I bet it's rather a big factor in unemployment. I know SA has a ton of other issues that are going to take decades to get out of, but some of those rules would be a BIG headache for an entrepeneur who cannot afford the overhead.
            • by Improv (2467) <pgunn@dachte.org> on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @10:07AM (#34186036) Homepage Journal

              Screw those entepreneurs. The chance to use lower-cost workers may inspire them to hire people in poorer nations, but that should not be confused with allowing a race to the bottom when it comes to working standards. The whole world would be better off if rules like that were global. Let competition be over other things, with good standards for working conditions. Anyone, entepreneur or not, who runs a factory with inhumane working conditions belongs in jail.

            • by delinear (991444) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @10:09AM (#34186056)
              What, allowing your employees to take holidays and regular breaks, taking responsibility if they get injured on the job and not being able to arbitrarily fire them without demonstrating poor workmanship or behaviour on their part? Yes, that must be really onerous. Hate to tear down your strawman, but we have all those rules in the UK and we don't have 43% unemployment (the last time it even hit 10% was almost twenty years ago, during the recession). Treating your employees with some respect does not, contrary to what appears to be popular belief amongst certain people, lead to the downfall of society.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by geekoid (135745)

              An entrepreneur that can'tr treat it's employees well might as well be driving a slave ship for as far as I am concerned.

              I have worked with many small entrepreneur , and with out exception that all renigged on promises, broke contracts, and in one case 'went out of business' moved to another state started a new corporation and then sold the technology 3 of us developed. He made millions.

              So FUCK any entrepreneur that whines about having to treat employees like human beings.

              For the record, if you have made a

            • by ultranova (717540) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @01:03PM (#34188256)

              I know SA has a ton of other issues that are going to take decades to get out of, but some of those rules would be a BIG headache for an entrepeneur who cannot afford the overhead.

              If your business can't survive with this "overhead", then it never was profitable in the first place, except by shifting its externalities into the society at large - which made it a net loss for the economy, so good riddance. That's what this "overhad" is: the costs resulting from your business. It's only fair that you should pay it, and also a requirement for working markets.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by s73v3r (963317)

              You know, I constantly hear this argument when talking about strengthening labor laws in the US. Fuck that shit. If you, as an entrepreneur, can't afford to give your workers adequate working conditions, then stay the fuck out of business.

          • by nedlohs (1335013)

            South Africa is in the G8+5, calling them "third world" is stupid. Yes they are an emerging economy, though in the top 5 of those.

            And you don't think that those labour laws could have any impact on those unemployment numbers? If you could fire someone without resorting to three official hearings and warnings, nobody would take more risks at employing people who might turn out to be incompetent?

        • by RsG (809189)

          Going by the .za TLD his homepage links to, he's either South African or uses a service provider located there. And SA is considered a developing nation by the HDI last I checked.

          • by RsG (809189)

            Damn, I need to start refreshing the page before I post, the post immediately above mine confirms what I thought.

      • by Kokuyo (549451)

        This sounds rather good. Better than Switzerland, at any rate. Where do you live?

        • South Africa.
          Sadly our maternity laws aren't as nice as Switzerland or Denmark's. We do have very good labor laws though - a natural side effect of a government that is utterly dependent on union support to get votes.

          Make no mistake this is no paradise. We have one of the highest rates of violent crime in the world, massive government corruption, a current major attempt to steamroller through massive anti-free-press laws, huge poverty problems, massive service-delivery issues, - it's got a lot of problems i

      • You can only work 45 hours a week? Seriously? What about a young guy who wants to do a little overtime to make a little extra money? What about professionals, for heaven's sake?
      • South Africa is a third world country? Really? That's a bit disingenuous. That's like saying you live in Simi Valley, CA and talking about what it's like on the mean streets of Compton....

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Frankly I'm a little surprised - since in my experience employees are more or less slaves in the US. The entire legal structure seems set up for whatever is easiest and cheapest for employers to do whatever they wish. Employees can sue, and that is often the de-facto suggestion whenever anyone in the US has a problem, but frankly a lot of situations could be avoided if they had a strong legal framework like every other developed country. No holiday time, no sick leave, no maternity leave, no restrictions on hours worked, no mandated breaks, few health and safety regulations, can be fired without notice or reason, can legally discriminate, etc. It is like working in the third world. Between this and health care the US is low on my list of places I wish to work.

      Actually, here in the third world employees are guaranteed a certain amount of holiday time, sick leave and maternity leave. Firing employees requires giving them 3 month notice with full pay (although it is possible to hire with a temporary probation period, which IIRC is at most 6 months) and is subject to appeal at labour court if disputed. Oh, and don't even think about discriminating (unless it is to comply with employment equity regulations).

      • Sounds like we're in the same third world country :p - I actually forgot about the 3-month notice rules and the appeal court (and heck I've fought and won a case in that court once - got another 6 months pay in a settlement because I could prove the dismissal was unfair and both me and the employer agreed I wouldn't really want to go back).

    • I kinda like it because if I'm not an incompetent moron, most of those things are none of my concern. I have all the stuff you listed, it's pretty much in my contract. Ultimately, I like to think that this just means that my tax dollars aren't wasted carrying along people who are too lazy to get good jobs.

      But then, Europeans never seem to complain about "welfare moms," so maybe their system eliminates people feeding off the government? Also, instead of my tax dollars going to feed and shelter the poor (whic

      • by silentcoder (1241496) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @08:10AM (#34185070) Homepage

        What the hell are you on about ?
        How is labour laws that protect workers from exploitation (the ones who don't get those things in their contracts because there are plenty of other people who can do the job) equated to wellfare ?

        There are NO tax dollars spent on ANY of those things. Nobody is giving the poor money here. What we ARE doing is making sure that those people who do their jobs get a fair and decent wage, decent safety conditions, holidays (which ARE a health and safety issue) etc. by making laws that employers are required to comply with.
        If anything - those laws ENCOURAGE people to work. If your welfare check is better than the janitor job which is all you can get - of course you'll take wellfare. If the law makes sure that janitor job is better - then most people will take the job.

        It's easy to say only "lazy" people can't get "Good jobs" - right - would you like to live in a country where there are no janitors at all ? No factory workers ? Where all the MacDonalds' have closed because there is nobody left who would possibly want to flip burgers to feed their kids ?

        Sorry -but those people can't get your kind of benefits from negotiation - they have zero negotiating power, but they are still human beings and they deserve to have their human rights and human dignity protected by the state -that's the ONLY valid purpose the state has in fact ! This includes protecting those rights from unscrupulous employers. It also makes sound economic sense to establish labor laws that ensure employees will always be better off than welfare cases as it reduces your welfare burden.

        How sad it must be to live in a country with such a narrowminded selfish culture that you honestly seem to believe that a law saying if you do your job you MUST be given at least 2 weeks holiday and if they fire you a fair hearing with council and a notice period with pay to find another job in so you don't lose your house and end up on the streets unable to ever do so... that laws like this are indistinguishable from WELLFARE to you

        • If employers have to provide more benefits to lower-level employees, that means they are spending less elsewhere. That displacement will likely come out of taxable commercial expenses, thus both taking tax money from the government and damaging the growth potential of that organization (reducing future taxable income).

          Jobs like janitor/fry cook/night stocker are all great jobs for teens and college kids. They're terrible places to find yourself at 40. I wouldn't want to be part of society that encouraged pe

          • by silentcoder (1241496) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @08:50AM (#34185330) Homepage

            >If employers have to provide more benefits to lower-level employees, that means they are spending less elsewhere. That displacement will likely come out of taxable commercial expenses, thus both taking tax money from the government and damaging the growth potential of that organization (reducing future taxable income).

            I've heard this argument advanced and I have two problems with it. Problem one: you are thinking like a typical American who believes the purpose of the economy is wealthy corporations. It's not. The purpose of economy is wealthy citizens. Now let's see what is the average country ratio of employers to employees ? 1 to 1000 doesn't sound unreasonable - which group should the government be protecting here ?
            Secondly - it's a false argument anyway. It's wrong on two levels. Firstly there is the mistake that if companies spend more on employees that's bad for the economy - it's not, it's not even bad for the company (except in the very short term) - increasing the buying power of employees means you have increased buying, consumption, purchasing- when all companies do that, they all benefit from each others employees buying their products more. Henry Ford understood that, and took it further making it a corporate policy to ensure that every single employee he has (including the damn janitor) can afford to buy his product. Result -damn near all of them did, that alone meant enough sales to cover the costs of those higher salaries, every sale there-after was a bonus. Sadly FORD forgot that lesson. The other reason is this: most of these other benefits are scientifically proven to increase overall productivity so in fact, they don't cost the employers anything, they all pay for themselves in increased production. Sadly that reimbursement doesn't show up on a balance sheet -well it is there but it's very nearly impossible to quantify and prove, which is why shortsighted management tends to ignore it. After all - by the time the productivity and morale hits an all-time low due to horrible working conditions, the employees are unionizing and you end up giving it to them anyway to stay in business, I won't be CEO anymore anyway - I'll have long since retired with more money than God.

            >Jobs like janitor/fry cook/night stocker are all great jobs for teens and college kids. They're terrible places to find yourself at 40.

            Not it's not -but not everybody is smart enough to get better. Like it or not - we don't all have the talents to be anything more than menial laborers, even if we did - education cost money - if your parents didn't have it, chances are you aren't going to have it either.

            > I wouldn't want to be part of society that encouraged people to spend 40 hours a week doing such menial labor when they're older.

            Of course it's good to encourage and promote education and reduce the number of people in that position - but a significant number of people will never have the option - they just aren't that smart. How would you reach this panacea you dream off ? Some kind of final solution to the idiot problem ?!?!?!

            >Lastly, severance benefits in the US typically amount to unemployment pay. I personally know people in the US who have been living off of unemployment for over 2 years. This is exactly the kind of thing you are arguing in favor of here, and the kind of "welfare mom" I feel is an unnecessary burden on the government.

            That happens here too - but why on earth are you taking ONE SINGLE labor law and then dismissing ALL labor laws because of the problems with that one ? How is making sure a pregnant woman can take maternity leave and have a job to come back to not GOOD for keeping people employed? How is making sure that if your child gets sick you can take time off to care for him in the same category ? How is making sure that before you're fired over bullshit you get a chance to explain your actions with council and a fair hearing remotely similar ?
            You're just throwing the baby out with the bathwater now.

          • by Twanfox (185252)

            Wow, what a totally 'me first' attitude. Let me guess, you own your own business and don't want to have to provide these things to your employees?

            Let's go to the extreme. People getting murdered around you doesn't affect you if you're not an incompetent moron to get caught in that situation, no reason to make rules for that sort of thing, is there? Oh woe, if you made murder illegal, you'd have to spend money on police, and that'd just waste your taxes on something that gives you personally no benefit. Can'

      • by Kokuyo (549451)

        But then, Europeans never seem to complain about "welfare moms,"

        Oh, don't you worry, we have those too.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by node_chomsky (1830014)

        But then, Europeans never seem to complain about "welfare moms,"

        Because they know 'welfare moms' are basically a myth. People like that do exist, but it is extremely rare (as in much smaller than a minority), even among people who are forced to live off of welfare because the circumstances of their life were not as ideal as that of others. I work with disadvantaged children, and I meet lot of people that tea-baggers and mean-spirited conservatives would instantly describe as 'welfare mothers' because they are poor, and may even live off welfare. But among them, I have n

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @07:55AM (#34184936)

      No holiday time, no sick leave, no maternity leave, no restrictions on hours worked, no mandated breaks, few health and safety regulations, can be fired without notice or reason, can legally discriminate, etc. It is like working in the third world. Between this and health care the US is low on my list of places I wish to work.

      Dude, you want to pull that head out of your ass?

      No holiday time, no sick leave

      I'll give you the sick leave, but that's because almost everyone blows it on 3-day weekends, and never gets used for the intended purpose.

      no maternity leave, no restrictions on hours worked, no mandated breaks, few health and safety regulations

      FMLA + OSHA, I'll let you look up those two. There are restrictions on hours worked and mandated breaks for non-exempt employees.

      can be fired without notice or reason

      Yeah, this sucks, and it's called at-will employment, but not all states are like this.

      can legally discriminate

      Really? REALLY? Just because it happens and people can get away with it doesn't mean it's legal.

      • My employer had a simple solution to the misuse of sick leave -- sick leave is only intended for extended illness, so the first X days you are out "sick" come from vacation, after that from a relatively generous amount of paid sick leave (something like a month) then unpaid excused absence (as in they aren't paying you, but they aren't holding it against you) but only if you can provide signed documentation from a doctor certifying your condition (otherwise it's vacation then unexcused absence, which they a

        • by Twanfox (185252) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @09:37AM (#34185706)

          How nice that your employer lets you take a vacation day when you have a migraine so bad that you can't even see the light of day. Tomorrow you'll be fine, but today, it's vacation. Get out and enjoy it!

          The reason for doing that is because they know that people will sometimes be down with a day or two illness, but be fine later. If they can burn up that pool of vacation time then, then they won't have to worry about the employee taking that time off later. The net result? I'm sure you probably have more people in your workplace with contagious diseases than would otherwise be if they were allowed to stay home that day and not infect the rest of the workplace. Great call on the employer's part. Now, instead of being down one person for a day or two, now they'll be down several people for several days as the illness runs its course through their workforce.

          While that scenario is overly simplified, it is probably far more common than to have someone need to take sick time for long enough that a doctor needs to be called.

          My employer has a different simple solution. They call it sick/personal time. You can use it at your discretion, but if you use it for personal days and then get sick, you get to take it unpaid, and that's really no fun. It allows us employees to meter when we need to take a day for our mental welfare and become productive again. It also has that hefty drawback that we, as employees, try to avoid.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      No holiday time, no sick leave, no maternity leave, no restrictions on hours worked, no mandated breaks, few health and safety regulations, can be fired without notice or reason, can legally discriminate, etc. It is like working in the third world. Between this and health care the US is low on my list of places I wish to work.

      Huh? I live and work in the US. Never heard of anyone not getting holiday time or maternity leave. Sick time, I'm not as sure about.Agreeing to the hours worked and what you'll get paid for them is part of the hiring process. There are mandated breaks where unions are involved, outside of that, everywhere I've seen or heard of no one cares if you go out and take a smoke break or grab some water at the cooler or whatever once in a while. You're combining laying off with firing (which do have different legal

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by RobertLTux (260313)

      it depends on the exact job but most of what you are claiming is in fact false
      No holiday time,: Most jobs will have some vacation time after a year or so
      no sick leave, : Most jobs have a block of "personal days"
      no maternity leave,: Its unpaid but required by the Family Medical Leave Act http://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/index.htm [dol.gov]
      it unpaid but present
      no restrictions on hours worked,: this gets a bit squishy but in an hourly job everything above 40 hours in a week gets paid time and a half and there is some stuff r

      • by Twanfox (185252)

        There is a difference between having it offered as something to sweeten employment and being required to provide it in all jobs.

    • No holiday time, no sick leave, no maternity leave, no restrictions on hours worked, no mandated breaks, few health and safety regulations, can be fired without notice or reason, can legally discriminate, etc. It is like working in the third world. Between this and health care the US is low on my list of places I wish to work.

      Check (10 days off/year), Check (15 days off/year, 6 months extended sick leave which renews every 5 years), Check (Paternity leave, counts as sick time), True (but if I'm over 40 hours I get overtime - knew I was on call taking this job), True (no mandated breaks, but my work environment allows for them whenever), No safety issues to worry about here, True (I'm not a "right to work" state, I'm in an "at will" state), and Discriminate? ooohkay. Come to the states sometime. See what it's really like.

    • In the U.S., to actually have all that stuff within a framework of written rules and procedures that are actually adhered to by all in your workplace, you must have some sort of contract. So I expect a few people will poke their heads in here and say that they have all that stuff because it's all in the contract they negotiated before they took their job. Bully for them. For most middle-and-below-class workers, negotiating a contract is something they don't get to do. If they don't like the deal, they c

      • You're overstating several issues. One, just about EVERY job in the US that is full time has vacation and sick leave that accrues, and you DON'T have to be union to get it. Unions only take up a small percentage of the workforce in the US now - they're a relatively outdated entity, mostly seeming to feed off of the 1950s model rather than something modern where a cooperative relationship would benefit more.

        I debate your last statement because of the inability to fire from the government for incompetenc
    • But but but but but REGULATIONS ARE KILLING INDUSTRY!

      At least that's what my rep. says when I write to him about making sure that Corporations follow the rules....

    • by BZ (40346)

      > No holiday time, no sick leave, no maternity leave, no restrictions on hours worked, no
      > mandated breaks, few health and safety regulations, can be fired without notice or
      > reason, can legally discriminate, etc.

      While there are no _federal_ laws covering some of those items, there are plenty of _state_ laws (e.g. a number of states have laws requiring paid maternity leave; several have required paid paternity leave as well). Further, there are federal laws requiring certain treatment of maternity

    • No holiday time, no sick leave, no maternity leave, no restrictions on hours worked, no mandated breaks,...

      I have yet to work anyplace in the U.S. that did not give at least 8 paid holidays to full time workers and holiday pay to those part time workers who were scheduled to work the holiday. Additionally, every place I have worked either gave a certain amount of sick time per length of tenure, or gave the employee sick time that accrued according to the number of hours worked. Finally, any U.S. company that does business across state lines must give breaks according to clearly laid out rules (it is more complic

    • by sgtrock (191182)

      No holiday time, no sick leave, no maternity leave, no restrictions on hours worked, no mandated breaks, few health and safety regulations, can be fired without notice or reason, can legally discriminate, etc. It is like working in the third world. Between this and health care the US is low on my list of places I wish to work.

      Bwuh? What version of the U.S. have you visited? What you describe hasn't existed since the 1930s.

      Employee/employer relations is considered to be a state level issue. As the Bill of

  • by jarrettwold2002 (601633) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @07:35AM (#34184798)

    Independent of the legal view, for me this entirely depends on the forum it's conducted in. If you have a public facing social networking account, and you go "My boss John Doe is an incompetent asshole", that for me is very much the same as driving around with that as a bumper sticker on your car.

    On the other hand if this is conducted on a private facing social networking account, and you say that outside of it being libelous or slander and not in violation of any criminal laws. That cannot and should not be touched. It doesn't matter if a co-worker who was on your facebook shares it with your boss, that was demarcated as private.

    As we expand communication, it's absurd for people to say "I didn't know that x person would look at y comment and z would happen". This is an old problem that's being brought to a new medium, and people gasping in false shock.

    • by buckadude (926560) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @08:36AM (#34185224)
      I believe one of the aspects the NLRB is protecting here is the right to complain and collaborate via email or other electronic means. collaboration is key here. You would not be protected in speech based on saying something like "My boss John Doe is an incompetent asshole" because there is no collaboration there... its just a statement. I could be wrong here, but as I understand it, you would need to add in something to the effect of " my boss john doe is an incompetent asshole and would anyone like to start a group or get together and talk about it?" The reason goes back to some basic things like the right to form unions with out being fired, threatened or physically stopped (this used to be very common (Pinkertons)). This is not a groundbreaking decision here... any labor lawyer could tell you that... the real headline here is that this is how it should be and soon the Congress will most assuredly do everything they can (short of blowing up the NLRB) to stomp this out of existence.
      • The reason goes back to some basic things like the right to form unions with out being fired, threatened or physically stopped (this used to be very common (Pinkertons)).

        These days, the physical threats are replaced with lawyer hit teams like The Burke Group, Jackson Lewis, and the like.

      • by wjousts (1529427)

        Somebody mod the parent as insightful.

        This is how I understand it from discussions on the news this morning. I think the employee in question was protected because after bitching about her work, several co-workers chimed in with their opinions. That made it a collaborative discussion about working conditions and protected.

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