Wash Post: Surge in Legal Disputes Relating to Facebook Firings

The Washington Post has a good discussion of the recent increase in legal actions, involving the National Labor Relations Board primarily, having to do with the boundaries of employees' rights to make statements on Facebook and through other forms of social media.

Confusion about what workers can or can’t post has led to a surge of more than 100 complaints at the NLRB and created uncertainty for businesses about how far their social media policies can go. In one case, a Chicago-area car salesman was fired after going on Facebook to complain that his BMW dealership served overcooked hot dogs, stale buns and other cheap food instead of nicer fare at an event to roll out a posh new car model. The NLRB’s enforcement office found the comments were legally protected because the salesman was expressing concerns about the terms and conditions of his job, frustrations he had earlier shared in person with other employees.

The article quoted one employer-side lawyer who indicated that employers are upset that they can't simply terminate an employee for talking about work online.  Employer-side lawyers have been selling their clients social media use policies by the truckload over the last year or so but such policies may prove to be pretty ineffectual in stopping employees from discussing work-related matters with each other via social media.  In actuality, such policies are themselves possibly violative of federal law as an attempt to forbid concerted activity.  

Still, employees should not too brazen about trashing the workplace on Facebook.  I truly think a good rule of thumb when using social media is to assume that NOTHING is private and don't post anything that you wouldn't mind being read by your momma or your boss.

Read the Washington Post article here.