Contrasting Cases: Two People Fired Due to 'Net Postings

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Madeline, Nov 10, 2010.

  1. Madeline
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    Madeline BANNED

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    Case Number One:

    Feds rule against employer in firing woman over critical Facebook remarks | cleveland.com

    Case Number Two:

    Andrew Shirvell fired from job at Michigan Attorney General's Office - AnnArbor.com

    The two cases are not totally comparable as the Shirvell twit engaged in conduct that amounts to theft of services from his employer as well as lied to investigators. However, as best we can, let's use them to discuss:

    Just how much control can your employer legally exert over your online speech from home?
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2010
  2. Madeline
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    Madeline BANNED

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    ^Bump^

    I find it hard to believe no one has a POV on employer-controlled private speech on the 'net by employers.
     
  3. Ringel05
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    Ringel05 Diamond Member

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    Both are justified however in the last one I think the employer left themselves open for a possible defamation case. I would have not even mentioned the "borderline stalking", considering it was a "political" race the two were supposedly engaged in stalking might be hard to prove. But then again, I'm not a lawyer so it's simple opinion based on what I do know.
     
  4. Madeline
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    Not only is Mike Cox a lawyer, he is the Chief Lawyer for Michigan. He may well have a duty to prosecute Shirvell; he would certainly have a duty to cooperate in any criminal investigation of Shirvell's conduct.

    But setting aside, Shirvell's criminal liability for stalking, if we contrast the two cases merely for speech and its content (and place -- on the 'net), seems to me employers who fire for internet postings are in hot water. I'd say restrictions on speech extracted from employees or would-be employees in exchange for work are also toast.

    Do you agree?
     
  5. Ringel05
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    Ringel05 Diamond Member

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    The issue was the first one was fired wrongly because of personal time speech (hopefully) while not on the job. When doing it on the job in an unofficial venue then the employee becomes liable, at least that's my understanding of how the rules are to be utilized.
    As for employer required restrictions of free speech while on the job, while I'd like to see that go bye,bye I doubt it will.
     
  6. Madeline
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    I agree, an employer can control an employee's 'net speech whilst that employee is at work -- assuming the employee is using the employer's pc and ISP to write such speech. I would think bans on personal use of employer property are pretty typical for employers of all sorts, and that employees are no more free to fritter away employer-paid time on the 'net than they would be to fritter it away painting their nails.

    I dun know all that much about labor law, but the article suggests that "water cooler talk" about working conditions and supervisors is protected. If this is true, then it only makes sense that speech of this sort on the 'net would be protected as well -- except for this:

    If I chat up my coworkers at the water cooler about how much I hate my boss, my only listeners are the people I'm speaking with. But if I post negative comments about my employer on the 'net, my audience is all of Planet Earth (potentially). I suppose it is possible the employer could assert a right to be free of employer criticism on the 'net for this reason, but I rather doubt that'll fly.

    The interesting thing about the Shirvell case is, his offensive speech was not about his employer but an unrelated, third party private citizen. I think Mike Cox was correct in emphasizing he did not fire Shirvell for exercising his free speech rights but for apparent theft of services, lying to investigators and apparent criminal cyber-stalking and RL stalking.

    In short, if Shirvell had confined himself to online activities at home, I'm not sure his boss could have acted against him (legally) -- though of course, an employee can sometimes be fired just on a whim, for no reason at all.

    It'll be interesting to see if Shirvell sues for wrongful termination.
     
  7. editec
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    editec Mr. Forgot-it-All

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    YOu have consitutional right on the streets and in public places.

    You have NO consitutional rights on the job.

    Your employer is under no obligation to grant you the right to free speech, free association, the right to bear arms, the right to ANYTHING you might think is your right due to being a citizen of this nation.

    Hey, learn to accept that fact.

    Corporations are more important and much more powerful than citizens.

    Money= FREE SPEECH, remember?.

    You are worth only as much money as you have.

    What you want is only as important as your ability to get it, and hold onto it.

    THIS is the society we want, obviously.

    If it isn't, why do we keep electing people who see to it that the above is the way things are?

    Get it?

    The only truly FREE people in this world are criminals that haven't been caught. And most of them are slaves to thye tyranny of their fellow anarchists, so they too are hardly free.

    Civilized people are tools to be used and dismissed when no longer useful.
     
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  8. Madeline
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    Madeline BANNED

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    That's a tad jaded, editec. Yes, we have lost some rights and others have been eroded, but I bet Americans are still the freest people on Planet Earth.

    Kinda early to be parading around a sign that says "The End Is Nigh", donca think?
     
  9. Middleman
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    Middleman Defender of the month

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    I believe both people were vulnerable to firing. The EMT should have kept her whining to the PM and IM feature of Facebook. It kind of depends on how private she had her settings on her wall, actually. If she had them ultra private, then the boss would have only found out if one of her FB friends had gone to him. Facebook can be a much more public setting than merely backbiting the boss at the water cooler. And, some bosses don't allow negative gossip to occur in their workplace, or negative things to be said about them outside of work.

    The other fellow, it sounds like, inappropriately used company resources for a campaign. He should have played by the book since he had enemies because of his opinions and stances. Bad move on his part.
     
  10. Madeline
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    Sounds as if the feds are taking the position that labor laws prohibit restrictions on an employee's free time free speech (presumably except for trade secrets, etc.) You think they are wrong, Middleman?

    This case will be fun to keep track of, methinks. I bet many people are affected at work by their facebook postings.
     

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