Can Employers Fire Workers For What's Said In A Private Online Group?
from the privacy-questions dept
The Wall Street Journal has an article exploring an interesting lawsuit in New Jersey, concerning privacy of employee comments in a private forum outside of work. In this case, some workers at a restaurant had set up a private MySpace group where they discussed work, including patrons of the restaurant and their supervisors. It's the typical sort of thing that people always joke about -- in the past, to each other in person, and these days online. The whole thing was private, and a way of joking around/letting off steam -- but, of course, one employee showed a supervisor, who initially laughed it off. However, the news spread up the chain of command, and the employee, who initially revealed the group, was forced to hand over her login to the group, which was used by the restaurant's managers, who then fired the creators of the group. The fired employees claim that the info was accessed illegally, violating wiretapping laws. That may be a difficult claim to substantiate, and could raise questions about what constitutes illegal access to such info (after all, the only reason supervisors found out in the first place was because one employee voluntarily shared the info). Still, it does seem like quite an overreaction to fire the workers because of this group.