• Wow. I know I’m on the right track if you’re agreeing with me. Thanks for the link and the compliment.

  • Great article.

  • Totally agree.

  • Totally Agree. Do not post anything on facebook that you do not want known by everyone. Remember there are lots of strangers out there. Goes for pictures too. Remember THINK before you post a comment.

  • […] Via Overlawyered. […]

  • The thrust of this article appears to be a person’s postings on Facebook, MySpace, etc are public and as they may be seen by the employer, it should be no surprise that negative comments result in the termination of the employee’s job.

    On the surface, this sounds reasonable.

    Yet there is a hole in the thinking.

    “Smith” writes on his Facebook page where he has 50 friends, “my workplace is unfair and my boss sucks!”

    “Jones” writes on a placard “Acme Corp’s Workplace is unfair!” and on the back of the placard “Management sucks!” Jones proudly walks a picket line and chants negative slogans toward the company as thousands, if not tens of thousands, drive by and see his sign and actions.

    Jones’ actions are protected because he is in a union. Smith is fired because why? Why are two different standards applied to the conduct of an employee? Why is it that we say “Smith deserves to be fired,” but “Jones is exercising ‘free speech’?”

    I totally agree that a supervisor should not be “friends” with an employee. That is looking for trouble even before the age of social networking. Just as the employee has the choice not to post something about a company or a boss, the company and the boss doesn’t have to read it either.

    There are some municipalities that are now demanding the employees divulge their social media account names and passwords as a condition of employment. That’s simply wrong on so many levels.

    There is a middle ground here that needs to held to. There has to be a part of a person’s life where they are not working, not a servant of the company and not accountable to the same rules and regulations when being paid by the company on company time.

    I believe that a person should be evaluated on the job they do. There are always going to be exceptions to this rule. But employees complaining about their employers in public settings are as old as when Og was discovering the wheel.

    If an employer is going to regulate what I say and do, then they should compensate me for the time when I am speaking and apply this “detrimental speech in public forum” concept to ALL employees across the board.

  • gitarcarver: That sounds reasonable, but it’s not actually what anyone wants.

    First, it provides no social or societal benefit. If the place you work didn’t want you as an employee, they’d fire you. If they otherwise want an employee but fire you because you aren’t loyal, they’ll hire someone else. What’s the net benefit of a company being forced to have an employee they want less rather than an employee they want more?

    Second, it harms the very people it tries to help. The harder an employee might be to fire and the more likely you’ll get in a situation where you want to fire them but can’t because of some legal rule, the more reluctant you’d be to hire them in the first place. So any rule that prohibits firing pushes net employment down or pushes overall salaries down because it decreases the value of an employee. An empl0yee you can for disloyalty is worth more than one who might become disloyal and you might be stuck with them.

    And from a fairness perspective, look at it from the other side. Would anyone ever want to see a rule that says you can’t quit your job just because your boss insults you behind your back? An employee can quit because they don’t like their boss’ haircut or the color of the walls. Everyone understand not wanting to be stuck in a bad job situation from the employee’s side — it’s much the same from the employer’s.

    And, of course, if employees want to fight for this right, they are welcome to negotiate for it. However, that will require them to give something up. I’d rather see what they thing it’s worth to them than force them to take it — and pay the price — whether they want it or not.

    Overall, people really do want at will employment.

  • I’d be more willing to agree, but there’s been a few cases where someone was fired over facebook comments where the employer conduct was very questionable. I recall one where the employee had privacy settings set so only friends of friends could see her profile, which would keep the employer out. So the employer friended a friend of hers, read bits of her profile, and fired her for it.
    If the employee makes no effort to hide disparaging comments, then yes, they should face some reprimand for that. But when employers go out of their way to look for instances where employees are unhappy, guess what? If they look hard enough they’ll find something that shows the employee doesn’t love the company. If he/she did love the company you wouldn’t have to pay them to show up.

  • David,

    I am not against “at will” employment. What I am against is 1) two standards for continued employment and 2) a lack of time where the employee is “off the clock.”

    I am not for another rule or regulation. I am for the acknowledgment that people have a life outside of work. The idea that a person can’t complain about a boss without getting fired because it shows they don’t want to be there is akin to groups of guys and groups of women complaining about their spouses meaning that they want a divorce. I don’t think anyone buys the second, but we are willing to accept the first.

    I am all for at will employment. I don’t believe, however, that I am employed by a company 24 / 7.

    I guess my point is that people shouldn’t be fired for what they say on social media in all cases.

    There needs to be a balance struck somewhere.

  • I agree with a lot of this. There is only one issue that I disagree with, which stems from personal experience, is implied loyalty. A long story short is that I inadvertently found out that the company I was working on-site for was charged a higher rate because the supervisor was out on medical leave and I assumed those duties. My company charged the higher rate claiming that since I was now acting as supervisor, I would have to be compensated as such. THe other company agreed. Well, you can guess what happened. My company pocketed the full rate. I found out, it became a big mess, but the result was my company appologized to me and paid me. After that I heard through the grapevine that HR labelled me as disloyal and was very unhappy with me (my job performance was excellent).

    Fortunately I changed jobs and went to an employer who understands fairness. But I still disagree with impled loyalty. I see it as I exchange my services for an agreed salary. If one of us finds the situation isn’t working, we’ll part company. I also understood that freedom of speech can have serious consequences which is why I never write anything public about my employers. It’s usually covered in the company handbook too.