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Worker Rights Extend To Facebook, Says NLRB 340

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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  • by silentcoder ( 1241496 ) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @08:49AM (#34184892)

    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 Barefoot Monkey ( 1657313 ) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @08:49AM (#34184894)

    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).

  • by silentcoder ( 1241496 ) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @09:10AM (#34185070)

    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

  • by RsG ( 809189 ) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @09:13AM (#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.

  • by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <richardprice@gm a i l . com> on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @09:21AM (#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?
  • by natehoy ( 1608657 ) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @09:51AM (#34185336) Journal

    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, including their name and phone number? Calling out customers who had late payments by name and including their phone numbers? I'd argue "no".

    I'd say if you were experiencing unacceptable working conditions, the employer should not have the right to fire you for saying so in public if you can prove what you are saying. 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.

    Similarly, just saying you had a bad day because you had a bad day doesn't really reflect negatively on your workplace, unless you make a habit of saying "[employer] sucks!" or something. It's work. You'll have bad days. We all do. Most of us refrain from saying it because, well, no one wants to read constant whining anyway, and we generally don't blame our employers and don't want to associate negativity with the companies that treat us well overall, but those who do should be able to freely as long as they don't make up stuff about their employer in the process or constantly bash their employer without any justification.

    If what you say is completely unrelated to work, then there should be no work ramifications unless your personal reputation is somehow critical to the company (CEO, important sales reps or public-facing representatives, etc). "Man, did I get drunk last night, how many hookers did I bang again, and man that blow was good...?" might be enough to get you a serious write-up if you call in sick the next day and claim it was a cold, but abusing a single sick day is rarely a "termination" offense unless it's at the end of a long pattern of same. You might also be subject to a drug test, and you might lose your job if you fail it, but that's being terminated due to a violation of a clear policy, not because you yakked about it on MyFaceTweet. You offered up evidence of a violation of a policy, they followed up on the evidence you gave them. Don't like that idea? Then don't violate your company's policies, pick a company to work for that has policies you can live with, or at least shut the hell up about it in public.

    You should have the freedom to speak your mind as long as you make it clear it's your opinion, and you should have the freedom to tell the truth all the time, but you don't have the right to violate any valid restrictions your employer might place in order to protect their reputation from damage (unless said damage is deserved), and their data from unauthorized distribution (ever), nor should any confessions you might make in public about your own wrongdoing be considered off-limits to your employer, as long as the wrongdoing directly affects your employment (admitting to getting drunk on a Friday night is not a work-related problem as long as you show up to work sober on Monday, admitting to getting drunk during a major sales meeting and losing a major contract as a result is most certainly one).

  • by Takichi ( 1053302 ) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @11:30AM (#34186298)
    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. But keep in mind, there is an active slave trade in all developed countries, so presuming the infallibility of a certain type of government or framework of law isn't realistic.
  • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @11:38AM (#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.

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.