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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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06 Jun 2016 Employers Need Not Tolerate Workers Screaming On the Electronic Street Corner Terminating Employees For Offensive Remarks On Social Media

Over the last few days, the news media have widely covered Bank of America’s decision to fire one of its employees for posting this on the employee’s personal Facebook page:   I hate Facebook for this reason you f***ing n****rs.  And yes, if [you] can call each that well I can too.  ‘F***ing n****r go back to Africa. Get over your pity party. You created this hatred and your own kind that brought your great-great-parents [sic] over here and sold them.  ‘Do something with your…

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24 Nov 2015 The Viral Spiral: How An Employee’s Facebook Post Dragged Her Employer Into A Social Media Controversy

  Instances of deplorable racism have sparked recent protests on the University of Missouri’s campus. Not surprisingly, these protests have received a significant amount of media attention. On Nov. 13, 2015, however, the world’s attention shifted to the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris. We have since been inundated with 24-hour news coverage on developments related to the war on terror.   Following the Paris attacks, the Washington Times released a story explaining how University of Missouri protestors had taken to Twitter to express disappointment with…

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19 Oct 2015 Employee Fired for Facebook Selfie

A Georgia employee was recently terminated from his position at a marketing firm as a result of a disgraceful Facebook “selfie.” In this case, the employee took a “selfie” with a co-worker’s African American son and uploaded the image as his profile picture. The employee’s picture resulted in a number of Facebook “friends” making derogatory, racist, and disgraceful remarks about the child (we won’t be posting them here). In response to some of the remarks, the employee described the child as “feral.” Not surprisingly, the…

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06 May 2015 Employers Won’t “Like” Ruling Allowing Class Action Notifications via Social Media

A New York federal court recently approved a proposal that would allow potential class members to be notified of a collective action via Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. In Mark v. Gawker Media LLC, a class of former unpaid interns claims Gawker violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and the New York State Labor Law. The plaintiffs are unaware of any mail or email address for 55 of the former Gawker interns who are potential class members, so they proposed reaching out to the potential class…

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02 Sep 2014 NLRB “Likes” Employees’ Facebook Argument

  The NLRB recently ruled that “liking” a Facebook comment is protected, concerted activity under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Thus, firing an employee for “liking” what the company deemed to be a disparaging remark regarding tax withholdings was unlawful. The decision can be found here.   In short, employees of a bar & grille were not happy when they found out that their employer had miscalculated tax withholdings (meaning they still owed money), so they did what more and more folks seem to…

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10 Mar 2014 Illinois Case Reminds (Again): Document Rights and Responsibilities On Company Social Media Accounts

An Illinois employer faces potential liability for accessing an employee’s Facebook and Twitter accounts while the employee was on leave. There is no question the accounts related to the company’s business, and among other things directed traffic to the company website.There were various points of disagreement among the parties about the accounts, however, including:   The employer says it directed the employee to start the Twitter account in question. The employee denies that. The employee says company management had administrator status on the Facebook page in…

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27 Feb 2014 How much can a Facebook post cost you? About $80K

Patrick Snay was an instructor at a Florida educational institution. After the school declined to renew his contract, Snay filed a lawsuit alleging age discrimination and retaliation. The parties ultimately settled the lawsuit for an undisclosed amount … well, until Snay’s daughter jumped on Facebook and posted the following: “Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver,’ she wrote to her more than 1,200 friends. ‘Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.” Snay never saw a penny…

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08 Jan 2014 Facebook Background Checking: Shouldn’t Smart Applicants Check Their Privacy Settings?

I have written here and elsewhere that I think the trend in state legislatures to limit employers’ ability to look at social media has gotten out of hand. Very few employers are demanding Facebook and other social media passwords, so legislation limiting that “practice” may scratch an itch, but has little practical impact, at least until legislatures intentionally or inadvertently expand the scope of those statutes to restrict other less intrusive practices – such as looking at information that applicants and employees make publicly available!  It seems…

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29 Oct 2013 Facebook Users Beware: Even Posts You Claim Not to Have Written Can Haunt You

In yet another case emphasizing the growing impact of social media on the workplace, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of an employer who terminated its employee based on its honest belief that he had posted a disparaging comment on Facebook, which created workplace concerns. Specifically, in Smizer v. Community Mennonite Early Learning Center, found here, the Plaintiff (a male) claimed that the Defendant – whose Director was the Plaintiff’s own mother – had discriminated against him…

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27 Sep 2013 Your Facebook “Like” May Be Constitutionally-Protected Speech

According to a recent decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, pressing the “like” button on your Facebook page constitutes substantive speech that may be protected by the First Amendment. Six employees of the Hampton, Virginia Sheriff’s Office were dismissed because they showed support for Sheriff B.J. Roberts’ electoral opponent. They filed suit against Sheriff Roberts, claiming in part that their terminations violated the First Amendment. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia granted summary judgment…

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