Facebook is free speech

Published:  November 12, 2010
Facebook is free speech

An independent US federal agency, the National Labor Relations Board, has ruled that Facebook posts cannot be used to terminate an employee’s position within an organisation.

Dawnmarie Souza, an emergency medical technician, was fired from her job after mocking her supervisor on Facebook in colourful language. She also compared him to a psychiatric patient which led to her co-worker adding further negative comments regarding the supervisor. The board deemed her termination unfair.

Up until now slagging off your boss on Facebook and getting caught meant instant termination, but the board compared such situations to ‘water cooler’ chat among staff members that can’t be seen to determine their level of skill. Punishment for such discussion would be seen as impeding on freedom of speech which comes under the National Labor Relations Act.

The act basically allows workers to speak about their working conditions, managers and salary without fear of punishment. It’s the same act that allows Unions to be organised without fear of legal ramifications.

This ruling may possibly set a precedent around the world, but remember, dissing your boss may not get you fired in the future but it sure isn’t going to help get you that promotion you were hanging for, so exercise this oncoming freedom with caution.

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