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Facebook can’t get you fired

New rulings say your boss can’t dismiss you for talking trash, online or off.

By Rich_Maloof Jan 23, 2013 5:26PM

Job seekers have already heard any number of nightmare stories about people who learned a hard lesson in the age of social media. Companies visit social sites to check out potential candidates, and if you’re the one asking to be hired, you don’t want your named tagged in Facebook photo of you dancing drunkenly on a bar in a bikini (especially if you’re a guy).

Photo: RunPhoto/Getty ImagesThat’s a deal-breaker for someone knocking on a company’s door looking for work. Once on the inside, employees find large and small businesses alike very protective of their own online reputations. The web has proven to be a great equalizer, for better and for worse, and all it takes is a few discouraging words or downturned thumbs to scare away customers or tarnish a carefully crafted corporate identity.

Employee manuals commonly include strict rules about what can and can’t be said online, even from private accounts — with a threat of terminating the employee for violating policy.

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No can do, says the National Labor Relations Board. The NLRB, first formed to protect unions, says workers have the same right to discuss work on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks as they do at the water cooler. Barring a breach of confidentiality, employers cannot fire you for talking trash online.

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Specific guidelines are yet to be determined, but recent rulings and advisories by labor regulators have made blanket restrictions on disparaging comments about managers, co-workers, or a company illegal, according to a report in The New York Times. The NLRB has even ordered the reinstatement of some workers previously fired for such violations.

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The new rulings will reshape the social-media policies of companies in the private sector. As the Times notes, the new employee protections come at a time when schools, universities, government agencies, and corporations are debating what constitutes appropriate online discussion.

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Photo: RunPhoto/Getty Images

60Comments
Jan 23, 2013 10:06PM
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all i gotta say is, if you dislike your job and wanna complain 24/7 about it, then gtfo and find something you will enjoy, if not, leave work at work and don't bring it home where you've already got more than enough to worry about
Jan 23, 2013 9:27PM
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how do you fire Facebook?...I am so sick and tired of every time I try to add a comment you have to join Facebook well screw facebook
Jan 23, 2013 8:56PM
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you may not get fired, but I got a write up for "LMAO" post from my phone during business hours.  lol
Jan 23, 2013 8:55PM
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First, my facebook page is exactly that.  MINE

It is no one's business what I say, do, act like etc. out of work.

No you won't get my password.

No you cannot have access.

And if you fire me for that I will go straight to the labor board and

find an attorney.

What does FB have to do with my work?

Absolutely nothing.

 

If employer's treated employees with respect and dignity and decent pay, then they wouldn't need to resort to spying on their employee's FB pages.

 

You have my LinkedIn, that is my professional page, FB is PERSONAL.

What part of none of your business don't you get?

Jan 23, 2013 8:42PM
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amanda57070 is right, iowa is a right to work state. You can be terminated at any time for no reason.
Jan 23, 2013 8:39PM
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It seems to me that if an employee posts on Facebook "Company X sucks and nobody should do business with them" that the company should be able to fire them. It's ridiculous to have a law stating otherwise.
Jan 23, 2013 8:33PM
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Yes, I think they should be able to see what you are writing.  What if they are commenting on nightly drunken escapades, drinking at work, doing drugs or worse...talking trash about their supervisors.   I have seen things like this posted. like the woman who lost two memory care clients on her shift and posted about it online while she "was" at work and laughing about the fact police had to be called in to locate the missing.  These comments reflect on a business and people are not being held accountable for their actions.  More companies need to put a stop to employee theft - wasted company time by those spending more time playing games, posting on Face Book or watching porn.  I see people who post all day long when they are at work...should they also demand to be paid for that time?  Ya'll know who I am talking about, look in the mirror.
Jan 23, 2013 8:30PM
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If an employer decides they're going to fire you, they're going to fire you one way or another.  If they don't like what you say on Facebook, then they'll just find some other reason.  And they will find one, because everyone screws up at some point or another - it's just that they'll be watching you for that screwup so that they can jump on you when it happens.  The lesson: you're better off keeping your opinions about your employer OFF of your Facebook wall.

 

Truth be told, if you have nothing but disparaging remarks to say about your employer - on Facebook or otherwise - it's probably past time for you to be looking for a different job anyway.

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