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Free Speech About Employers on Facebook? Can You be Fired?

Updated on December 2, 2011

Freedom of Speech? isn't this America? Can you be fired for comments on Facebook about your employer?

YES to all.

There is some sort of odd illusion that just because it is America, land of the free, that employees can get on their social networking site like Facebook and say derogatory things about their employer. Well, that isn't exactly so, you can be fired by an employer. Employers do have a right to fire for such comments, but it, "depends" on the context and circumstance. It is not cut and dry many times. Employees have filed 113 cases with the National Relations Labor Board for unjust terminations. In one case, a paramedic was fired by the employer after the employee called his supervisor a "scumbag" on FB. In this case, the employer was wrong. Yet, in another case, a bartender on FB was chatting with another and called his customers "rednecks" and hoped they would choke on glass. He was fired. This time, the employer won.

What is protected employee behavior (or things they can do without being fired)?

1. Workers in a group discussing wages, conditions, or an individual who expresses these concerns of a group. Name calling but depends on the word used and in what context it is used and doe not involve any sort of threat.

What is not protected?

1, Bitching about conditions or others by yourself outside of a group.

2. Physical or verbal threats against anyone.

What is unlawful for an employer to do?

1. Stating that company policy restricts worker rights to discuss online with others their wages or conditions.

There remains a lot of murky issues for debate, they are: Specifically, when is name calling actionable by the employer? Are negative comments from a worker online from a workplace actionable or is it protected for the employee? This may be spelled out in the company's Internet use policy.


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    • Katharella profile image

      Katharella 6 years ago from Lost in America

      A lot of people think their freedom of speech is being stifled on different sites, when it's not an issue of the American Constitutions Bill of Rights First Amendment.

      The owner of any website has the authority to choose their own rules. Facebook's server owners can put any rules on them they want. I just started a website called the-first-amendment and even there I'm limited because I do not own the server. When I do own the server, then I will be able to have full freedom, until then first they make the rules, and then I make the rules. For instance my rule is I will not allow racial slurs, hatred or threatening - bully behavior that would make someone else feel afraid or bad.

      I will however, let people write and publish their thoughts and opinions (just as I have, given it's new) and I plan on taking it a bit farther. As I said it's new and I'm just getting started. When (and I will) own my own server, then only I will set forth the rules and abide by the laws set forth by congress that keep our children safe from viewing, although I fully believe too many people do not watch their children on the computer, nor do they limit their time or sites they can visit. Of course it's the fault of those who abuse the freedom of speech who ruin it for those who just want to speak the truth - i.e. of their work.

    • profile image

      Indigital 6 years ago

      Yes, but you see - this may be because if you're not getting along with the team, you may be considered to be underachieving at work. This may also be harassment, if you're provoking arguments on the job because of outside disagreements.