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Feds Settle Case of Woman Fired Over Facebook Posts 316

Posted by Roblimo
from the keep-your-yap-shut-about-keeping-your-employees'-yaps-shut dept.
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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Feds Settle Case of Woman Fired Over Facebook Posts

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  • by ThreePhones (1878176) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @11:38PM (#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.
  • by Just Another Poster (894286) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @11:59PM (#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:Goes both ways? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @12:16AM (#35147266)

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

  • by mc6809e (214243) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @12:24AM (#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.

  • by rsilvergun (571051) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @12:29AM (#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.
  • by RightSaidFred99 (874576) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @01:21AM (#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.

  • by Libertarian001 (453712) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @01:29AM (#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.

  • by mikael_j (106439) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @02:13AM (#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.

  • by 91degrees (207121) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @02:42AM (#35147910) Journal
    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.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @03:59AM (#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.

  • by Ed Peepers (1051144) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @07:14AM (#35148944)

    There is while you're at work. I work at PepsiCo (my views are my own, standard legal disclaimer yadda yadda) and there's no requirement that I must consume only Pepsi/Frito-Lay products all the time. But when I'm at work, I would have to be a complete idiot to bring in Pringles and Coke for lunch. Same goes for work-related events or meals, which nearly always held at a "Pepsi pour" location. It's just good business.

    We're obviously encouraged to visit Pepsi pour locations on our own time, but nobody's following us around with a clipboard. Even at work it's not a formal rule, there's just a very strong cultural taboo given our good-natured rivalry with that carbonated beverage producer in Atlanta... :)

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @07:39AM (#35149060) Homepage Journal

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

    Once again, boo for Unions, which today exist solely to protect the interests of a privileged few. What we need is labor laws that permit anyone to sue their employer if they should take this sort of action.

  • by bwintx (813768) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @08:51AM (#35149586)
    The way I heard it during the 1960s was that some guy ran into Red Square yelling, "Khrushchev is a fool!" and ended up going to prison for 30 years -- five years for publicly insulting the Premier and 25 years for revealing a state secret.

    One might guess similar jokes have circulated concerning other dictatorships over the years.

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