Dear Evil Skippy: Is My Employer Violating My Civil Rights?
I was just hired for an office position. During orientation, the office manager said that we should be careful not to make negative comments about co-workers on Facebook or other sites. The office manager said posting negative comments could be cause for termination. Is that even legal? This has to violate the First Amendment and Freedom of Speech.
– Civil Rights Oriented
The First Amendment says the government can’t restrict your freedom of speech. It does not restrict private employers in the same way. While the power is not unlimited, private employers generally can make it a condition of employment that you not say certain things in certain forums. You may get fired for exercising that freedom by violating your employer’s rule, but the government can’t penalize you in any way. Your freedom of speech is not “restricted” – you’re just out of work.
If you work for a public (i.e. “government”) employer, the answer is a bit fuzzy. But really, who cares if the rule is legal or not? Whether or not the First Amendment is involved, it’s stupid and immature to post negative comments about a co-worker or anyone else. Sure, whine in general and make vague complaints – but don’t name names. Whatever you say lasts forever and makes you look bad, so don’t do it whether or not your employer has a rule.
Let your inner adult rule on this one. Take the high road and all that jazz.
– Evil Skippy
P.S. If you have really bad stuff to share, send it to me. I always need great material.
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