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Facebook Freedoms?

Posted February 08, 2011 10:17 AM by Steve Melito

The words she used to describe her boss are too profane to put here. Dawnmarie Souza may not be a model on-line citizen, but that didn't stop the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) from suing on her behalf and securing a settlement. So did Souza, who was fired by American Medical Response (AMR) in 2009, really strike a victory for "Facebook freedoms" in this closely-watched case? As an engineer or engineering manager, what might this court case mean to you?

When the NLRB sued AMR in the fall of 2010, the U.S. government agency charged with mediating disputes between management and labor asserted that Souza was illegally fired, in part because she was denied union representation. Under the terms of the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, employees also have the right to discuss the terms and conditions of their employment with co-workers. That protection extends to on-line speech, the NLRB contended.

Souza's words may have been in poor taste, but she uttered them in the course of communicating with other AMR employees, both on her own time and on her home computer. Under the terms of the settlement, AMR has agreed to revise the "overly broad rules" in its employee handbook about how employees can communicate on the Internet and with co-workers regarding their work conditions.

Souza's status as unionized employee is different from that of most engineers, and the absence of a judicial decision doesn't exactly make this case a legal precedent. Does your company have a social media policy in its handbook yet? If so, do you think it would stand up in court?

Source: cnet News

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#1

Re: Facebook Freedoms?

02/09/2011 2:51 AM

Anyone who makes a derogatory comment about anyone or anything on Facebook or any other social networking site deserves all they get for being so stupid

Regards,

Gasman

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#2

Re: Facebook Freedoms?

02/09/2011 8:53 AM

Years ago, my first job was with a large US firm. The GM had a word with me one day as I indicated I was fed up and wanted to leave. Having established that it was not a personality or chemistry problem but purely frustration that I could not see a route for long term advancement he pointed out that the best method was to support your boss and ensure he (or she) gets promoted. It is a win-win philosophy. Nobody keeps hammering someone who always supports them. Others see your loyalty and want you on their team. If the boss is one of the good guys and gets promoted there is a chance you will get pulled up in the slipstream. If he is one of the bad guys, he will be promoted out of your way and you can have a fresh start with his successor.

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: Facebook Freedoms?

02/09/2011 9:35 AM

What about when your only promotion route is when your boss leaves?

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#5
In reply to #2

Re: Facebook Freedoms?

02/09/2011 11:29 AM

How does this work if your boss has promoted up as high as he could possibly go without some specialized education or experience gained outside his routine job ( and he obviously has no intent on receiving either). In essence what if he is going no where and satisfied with that situation.

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#4

Re: Facebook Freedoms?

02/09/2011 10:43 AM

The Bottom Line is not to air your "Dirty Laundry" in a public forum of any kind.....as a rule of thumb, if it's private then it doesn't doesn't need to be quote unquote published online and elsewhere, including the various sundry social media sites, and yes, even the Editor's page of your local newspaper.

I keep hammering away (but not harping) at my own 3 kids about this, but no, they're know-it-all 20-somethings with no freaking common sense whatsoever thanks to the X's influence and not mine (but not dummies...actual brilliant students), not fully comprehending that what they publish in FB and elsewhere will come to bite them in the ass later on, especially when the company they work for, or are apply for a job at, looks them up on the Net and see what they and their friends have been saying and been up to. Frustrating to say the least...actually damn aggravating as I feel like I'm talking to a freaking brick wall sometimes (actually most of the time)! I strongly feel that it's apathy on their respective parts.....so much for "Fatherly Advice" and helping them steer a good and productive path through life.....***SIGH***

Added my 2 Cents, for what little that's worth!

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#6

Re: Facebook Freedoms?

02/10/2011 2:34 PM

There can be a fine line between "free speech" and libel. I did not hear about, nor see what was written, but it would seem that if her profanities were lacking actual "truth", Ms Souza could be subject to prosecution, should her boss deem it appropriate, for libel. The same applies to anyone "publishing" defamatory comments on any social media. If the statements made are factual, free speech applies. If they are not factual, but opinion, then they may be libelous. In other words, it is always better to practice safe text.

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#7
In reply to #6

Re: Facebook Freedoms?

02/10/2011 3:02 PM

of course libel is a civil issue and not a criminal issue, so there isn't really a prosecution but rather a law suit. On the otherhand, the onus of proof is on the accused.

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#8

Re: Facebook Freedoms?

02/11/2011 4:38 AM

One of our national newspapers last week reported how some employers do a facebook search now as a regular part of screening job applicants.

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