Posted on February 9, 2011 by Jennifer Pointer




An employee in Connecticut violated her company's nondisclosure policies (which are fairly common in corporate America), and was fired.  It happens that she used Facebook to complain about the company she worked for, and, because nothing is truly private online, her employer found out about the remarks she made and fired her.  She then sued the company for violating her "free speech," rights. 


There has now been an out-of-court settlement for an undisclosed amount, and she will not return to work at that place of business.  It is unknown whether the amount is sufficient for the employee to live on for the rest of her life, but if it isn't she did not really "win" this battle in my opinion.  Now that she is famous - or should I say, "infamous," - on the web for suing her employer for firing her for badmouthing them, it's going to be really, really hard for her to get a job somewhere else.


As more of these cases come to court and become public, I believe it will eventually be decided that violating a contract you signed with an employer when you were hired by criticizing that employer or divulging information you are not necessarily free to divulge is not really a first-amendment right - even if you do it on the web, which is still largely a no-man's land in terms of the law.


Regardless of what the courts ultimately decide, however, this is a good place for a reminder that whatever you say on line could very well be read by someone you didn't intend to read it.  Facebooking while drunk or angry may very well come back to haunt you, long after you've sobered up or lightened up, so THINK before you post!  The information you put online (including "cached" content" could very well be used against you, not only by a current employer, but by potential future employers, who are unlikely to tell you the real reason you were turned down for a job.



Jennifer Pointer


Jennifer Pointer (e-mail) is in Tulsa, OK. She promotes a simple, a low-tech approach to effective online profile management, search engine optimization and social networking. 

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