Should People Be Fired Over Facebook? - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Should People Be Fired Over Facebook?

WASHINGTON -- The federal agency tasked with enforcing labor law has been fielding complaints from workers across the country who have been fired or disciplined for their work-related indiscretions on Facebook. Although the feds have taken up the cases of a number of jaded workers, others have essentially been told they have no one to blame for their workplace troubles but themselves.

That includes a Walmart worker who referred to his manager as a "puta" -- Spanish for "whore" -- on the social networking site after a spat over store displays, as well as a frustrated Illinois bartender who took to Facebook to air his desire to see the "redneck" patrons on the other side of the bar "choke on glass" as they drove home drunk.

The latter worker was canned and the former admonished for their respective online outbursts, and both appealed to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in hopes that their employers' actions would be deemed unlawful. In both of those cases, the NLRB declined to issue complaints on the workers' behalf, essentially saying the punishments were legitimate.

Like others that have preceded them, the two cases give workers, managers and lawyers a better idea of where the labor board stands in what is still a largely unexplored area of employment law. Although the NLRB deals primarily with issues surrounding union elections, the board has stood out in recent months as an agency willing to grapple with the question of when firing someone over a Facebook missive is fair game.

"The NLRB is the one making big splashy decisions, and people are drawing conclusions from those," said Tina Hsu, a lawyer specializing in employment and social media at Shulman Rogers in Potomac, Md. "They seem to be trying to discern whether private or non-work postings are having an adverse effect on the workplace. That's a difficult or blurry line to draw."

"It's new territory," said Nancy Cleeland, spokeswoman for the NLRB. >>>CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM HUFFINGTONPOST.COM

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