Posted 23 May 2012 - 01:29 PM
Posted 23 May 2012 - 01:58 PM
Don't you watch the news? Employers are checking facebook pages of employees and potential employees. YES, you can be fired for what you post. The 1st Amendment right to free speech doesn't have any application to private enterprise.
Posted 23 May 2012 - 03:27 PM
In the state of Washington is it right for someone to use what you posted on facebook to try and get you fired?
Asking whether it's "right" is asking for an opinion on whether it was the correct (i.e. moral/ethical) thing to do, and I'd need more facts to opine on that. A lot would depend on what it was that you posted.
Similarly, if you are asking whether an employer may fire you over something you posted on Facebook, the details of what you posted matter, too. But let's start with the basic rule for termination. If the employer is not a government agency, then the employer may legally fire you for any reason (or no reason at all) except for a few reasons prohibited by law. The prohibited reasons include firing you because:
• of your race, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetic test information under federal law (some states/localities add a few more categories like sexual orientation);
• you make certain kinds of reports about the employer to the government (known as whistle-blower protection laws);
• you participate in union organizing activities;
• you use a right or benefit the law guarantees you (e.g. using leave under FMLA);
• you filed a bankruptcy petition;
• your pay was garnished by a single creditor or by the IRS; and
• you took time off work to attend jury duty (in most states).
Note that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is a limitation only on government, not on private persons. Thus, a private employer may, for the most part, fire you for anything you say that the employer doesn't like. Government employers are more limited in that regard because the First Amendment applies to the government even its role as an employer.
However, even with a private employer, there are some limitations. For example, employees who share work grievances with each other over Facebook in order to try to work together to better their work conditions would be protected from termination for posting that stuff because that's related to union organizing type activity.
Firing employees over their Facebook comments has become rather commonplace. Facebook made it very easy for people to post anything and everything about their life and put on the internet for everyone to see. Unfortunately, people tend to think that what they post on Facebook is private and will only be seen by their friends and thus they don't think much about how their employer might react to what they post. But unless you lock down all the settings in Facebook to the most restrictive privacy settings, you expose yourself to the possibility that an employer or someone else whom you don't want to see it will nevertheless find out about it. Even with the most restrictive settings, it doesn't prevent your friends sharing what you put up with the whole world. That's why I never post anything on Facebook and I urge people not to put anything on the internet about themselves that they'd not mind the whole world seeing.
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