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.


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  1.  
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    Tgeigs, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 10:20am

    Forced to hand over login?

    "(after all, the only reason supervisors found out in the first place was because one employee voluntarily shared the info)."

    That may be, but based on what you wrote they FORCED the employee to hand over his/her login to a PRIVATE MySpace group. What is the difference between that and forcing her to hand over her Myspace general login info (and did they need that as well to access the group?).

    And from there we can extrapolate. Since private messages can be sent over those private groups, and to general accounts as well, did the employer have access to or the right to look at the private messages/emails? What if the employee was part of the group but hadn't participated in any of the disputed content? Then its a "hand over your logins because we suspect" approach, in which case might they force him/her to hand over public email logins as well?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 10:24am

    From my point of view, social networks have in many cases demonstrated the the wisdom of the tried and true maxim "never put anything in writing that might come back to bite you".

     

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    Tor, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 10:30am

    Data breach

    "But later, another supervisor called Ms. St. Jean into his office and asked her for her email and password to the forum. The login information was passed up the supervisory chain, where restaurant managers viewed the comments."

    Here in Sweden using login information that you are not supposed to have is a clear criminal offence. Isn't it in the states?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 10:32am

    If you buy your gas at the same gas station for a year, and then suddenly switch to a different one, you aren't legally required to submit a justification for that action for appproval by a court. You can switch gas stations for any reason you want, or no reason at all. It's a business transaction. Why is the transaction of employment so much more sacred than any other? Employers should be able to fire their employees for any reason they want, or no reason at all.

     

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  5.  
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    :Lobo Santo, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 10:32am

    Re:

    Good god you're right!

    Why, I know these one assholes; wrote a goddamn subversive (aka terrorist) manifesto--WROTE THE WHOLE THING DOWN!!

    I think it went something like this:
    "When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

    He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

    He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

    He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

    He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

    He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

    He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

    He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

    He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

    He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

    He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

    He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

    He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

    He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

    For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

    For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

    For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

    For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

    For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

    For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

    For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

    For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

    For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

    He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

    He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

    He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

    He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

    He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

    In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

    Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

    We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."

     

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  6.  
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    Matt, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 10:34am

    depends on the state, depends on what is said

    believe it or not as corrupt as illinois/chicago is, it's actually illegal to do this in IL if these posts were made outside of work. So it definitely depends on the state. If the posts were made at work, then you're SOL.

     

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  7.  
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    Weird Harolds #2 Fan, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 10:34am

    Re:

    Yeah, those damned leeching employees... oughta be able to just shoot them too.

     

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    Ima Fish, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 10:37am

    "Can Employers Fire Workers For What's Said In A Private Online Group?"

    You can fire an "at will" employee for any reason that does not involve illegal discrimination or illegal retaliation.

    You can fire a "for cause" employee for any reason as laid out in the employment agreement, as long as it does not involve illegal discriminatory or illegal retaliation.

    You can fire a union employee for any reason as laid out in the collective bargaining agreement, as long as it does not involve illegal discriminatory or illegal retaliation.

    So to answer your question: Yes.

     

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  9.  
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    Ima Fish, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 10:42am

    Re: Data breach

    "Isn't it in the states?"

    God that was funny. So, are you like a Swedish stand up comedian or something?!

     

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  10.  
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    Tgeigs, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 10:51am

    Re:

    This has been tried. The result was the advent of unions. Your attitude gave us unions. I'll repeat. YOUR ATTITUDE GAVE US UNIONS.

     

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    Tgeigs, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 10:53am

    Re: depends on the state, depends on what is said

    I also live in Chicago, and I think that in counterpoint it bears mentioning that IL is a state in which an employer CAN fire w/o cause, so long as the employee is not a Union member.

     

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    Mike (profile), Apr 28th, 2009 @ 10:55am

    Re:

    You can fire an "at will" employee for any reason that does not involve illegal discrimination or illegal retaliation.


    Well, that depends on the state in question, actually...

     

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    Matthew Henry, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 10:56am

    If it weren't for the fact that one of the members of the private group gave access to the employers, this would make a really interesting case about expectations of privacy in *private* online forums.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 11:02am

    Re: Re:

    Ha ha! King George.

     

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    mike42 (profile), Apr 28th, 2009 @ 11:10am

    Re: Data breach

    Yes, it is. See the Lori Drew case. This can easily be considered "hacking", a federal crime.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 11:16am

    Re: Re:

    True.

    See: At Will States

    But overall, At-will employment represents most of the states. The "Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing" is another issue.

     

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  17.  
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    Tor, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 11:19am

    @Ima Fish
    So if you see a work collegue's wallet lying around and you open it and find some password notes, you can then use that login information to access personal information via the internet without breaking the law?

    If so, that seems quite odd.

     

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  18.  
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    Yakko Warner, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 11:23am

    Re: Forced to hand over login?

    Indeed, the "forced" part makes me suspect the employee in question was threatened. From the article:

    But later, another supervisor called Ms. St. Jean into his office and asked her for her email and password to the forum. The login information was passed up the supervisory chain, where restaurant managers viewed the comments.

    [...]

    Ms. St. Jean said in a deposition she feared she would be fired if she didn't give up her password, a twist in the case that Mr. Maltby says could sway a jury against the company.


    If that is accurate, it's very chilling. How far is this from an employer demanding to see your written journal or home videos, because of what they suspect you might have said on them, and threatening to fire you if you refuse?

     

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  19.  
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    Headbhang, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 11:23am

    Re:

    Because you are talking about the means of subsistence of a person, perhaps a whole family.

    If a business loses a customer it's usually, no big deal; most of them have many more than one. Losing a job, in contrast, is a much bigger deal, since most workers don't have a replacement job in the back pocket.

    People are not property. Get it?

     

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  20.  
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    Ryan, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 11:27am

    Re:

    I pretty much agree with this. Obviously, firing these employees was probably not in the best interests of the employer, unless the composition of the writing in the forum was sufficient to call their loyalty and work ethic into question. They now most likely have to hire new employees and train them anew, and I doubt that this sudden purge did much for the loyalty of the remaining employees.

    However, it should be up to the employers to determine how best to handle their business. If a termination of employment is in the best interest of the business, then obviously nobody can complain that it was unfair. If the termination is unwarranted, then the employer is hurting himself and the employees can seek jobs elsewhere, perhaps under better managers.

    Eventually, I would guess that employers will become inured to these sorts of things and cease being so anal about private internet discussions.

     

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  21.  
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    Ryan, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 11:32am

    Re: Re:

    No, people are not property, and neither are businesses. Why are these people entitled to a constant inflow of money from particular business owners? They should have every right to peddle their services to whomever will compensate them best, just as employers should have every right to spend their capital in the manner they see fit.

    In this particular instance, they probably acted rashly and will end up paying for it. More successful businesses will be more considerate and intelligent in dealing with their employees if so.

     

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  22.  
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    Jesse, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 11:45am

    Re:

    No they shouldn't. They shouldn't be able to fire somebody, who say, refuses to do something dangerous or illegal. I do hear your point, but there needs to be a limit to rights of employee and employers alike. It doesn't take a lot of thinking to realize that your overly simple answer wouldn't work for a vast number of circumstances.

     

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  23.  
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    mike42-2, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 11:49am

    Re: Re: Data breach

    Oh, my mistake, I'm a F'tard, I don't know the definition of the word "hacking" and "hacking" IS NOT A FEDERAL CRIME. I should look up the definitions of the words I think I know before I use them online. Also, the Lori Drew case has nothing to do with "hacking"...

    Again, I'm a A$$Hat...

     

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  24.  
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    DS78, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 11:50am

    In Arkansas

    An employer can terminate anyone without providing a reason.

     

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  25.  
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    Headbhang, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 11:52am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I did not mention any entitlement. No-one is saying employers must put up with parasitic employees.

    Nevertheless, there is usually an asymmetry of power in the employer-employee relationship in which employees are more often than not the ones in need of protection. Why protect them? Again, because employees are people, not socks to be changed at the slightest hint of stinking.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 11:55am

    Re: Re: Re:

    No, people are not property, and neither are businesses. Why are these people entitled to a constant inflow of money from particular business owners?

    Hah. You make me laugh. Today, people are measured in their abilities, and are valuated in terms of capital. Human Capital, to be most precise. There are software programs which attempt to manage human capital from all the major ERP/ERM providers.


    They should have every right to peddle their services to whomever will compensate them best, just as employers should have every right to spend their capital in the manner they see fit.

    True, however outside the office, there seems to be a more real vision of the person. Sometimes a researcher will take people's words at face value instead of first observing a person's tool chest which may include sarcasm, off-tone, or devil's advocate to better understand the true nature of the problem and what is really wrong.

    I believe this is the same tool chest President Obama pulled from when he allegedly had meetings with the Weather Underground, William Ayers and others.

    In each case, disparagement can gather much better understand the alternative point of view, with goals to better determine the alternative point of view's goals.

    All this is to better meet business goal. Nonetheless, such actions still remains outside of business time and what one does outside of businesstime is their own.

    So long as they don't disparage the hand that feeds them, bring the meat back, all is good, no?

    Think of it like a public and less-controlled focus group, without the cameras and hidden microphones and you'll get the idea. RedWest A is still an amazing building.


    In this particular instance, they probably acted rashly and will end up paying for it. More successful businesses will be more considerate and intelligent in dealing with their employees if so.

    I would suggest contacting your congressman and ask them to implement a national "Covenant of Good Faith" on a national scale.

     

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  27.  
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    jb, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 12:03pm

    Re: Re: depends on the state, depends on what is said

    and then employers wonder why the workers form unions!!

     

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  28.  
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    Klein, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 12:07pm

    Missing the Point

    I think most of you are missing the point here. It really has nothing to do with whether an employer has the right to fire someone or not. It's more to do with whether or not they had the right to access someone's MySpace account using a login they may have coerced from someone. If the postings were not done at work then the employer had no right to even request the login information.

     

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  29.  
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    Susan B., Apr 28th, 2009 @ 12:08pm

    "Private online group" is an oxymoron

    I fired an employee over what she said, and encouraged others to say, via the creation of a malicious Myspace hate-group whose sole purpose was to denigrate a fellow employee and student. The page was "public" once you had a Myspace account and did the most superficial search of the the name of the university where all the members attended. In fact, the employee who was the target of the hate-group found the page by accident by looking up the name of her University and looking for names of people she knew. Needless to say, she was devastated. She transferred after that semester, which was shanmeful since she was an honor student and valued employee. She was targeted because of her age (a little older than most other students) and was non-traditional in her outlook (creative, independent). Both women worked for me in a university public service program (academic support)and the image and reputation of our program and our services were on the line. Her behavior violated the standards of behavior of an employee of our program, as well as that of the university, and jeopardized the credibility of our program. There was no question that she needed and deserved to be fired.
    Anyone could access that group who had the name of the university and did a superficial search on the site. This was not private at all. there is no such thing as "private" when you're online. It's about time people learned this.

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 12:09pm

    it is up to the employer. some of you guys must be against drug testing employees as well. its the employer who has to deal with the employees and what they say outside of work. because it wont stay outside of work.

     

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  31.  
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    Ryan, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 12:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Hah. You make me laugh. Today, people are measured in their abilities, and are valuated in terms of capital. Human Capital, to be most precise. There are software programs which attempt to manage human capital from all the major ERP/ERM providers.

    Yes, businesses will refer to their "human capital" as an asset, so as to gauge their value. Doesn't mean that they don't have to consider things like loyalty, morale, incentives, etc. so as to get the most out of their employees. What point are you making?

    In each case, disparagement can gather much better understand the alternative point of view, with goals to better determine the alternative point of view's goals.

    I agree; we don't know what was said in this forum, nor the quality of employees that were fired, but it seems in general that considering criticism would be a much better strategy in the long run than silencing it. Doesn't mean that businesses should be forced to follow that strategy at all times, however.

    I would suggest contacting your congressman and ask them to implement a national "Covenant of Good Faith" on a national scale.

    I don't really agree with this. Why force the hand of business owners? It's their money they're handing out in wages. Things like loyalty and reputation are sufficient to convince most employers to treat their employees with respect anyway--limiting options merely decreases employers' incentive to hire people. As long as they don't infringe on their employees' passive rights, and they honor their contractual agreements, I feel that is all that is obligated of them; successful employers will go beyond.

     

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  32.  
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    Headbhang, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 12:13pm

    Re: Re:

    Ah yes, the myth that optimal free market will lead to good employer-employee relations...

    Undoubtedly, this is at least partly true, but unfortunately little of the market is run optimally. Bad business decisions will be made and whereas the businesses might suffer a little due to the injustice of the decision (with the rare catastrophic collapse), it is the employees who usually have the most to lose. Hence, an asymmetry of power arises, which the optimization of self-interest will inevitably translate into a sustained low-level abuse/exploitation of the employees.

    (Mind you, this asymmetry will arguably be present even in an optimally run free market, but human fallibility will only enhance it unless counteracting measures are adopted)

     

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  33.  
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    TheStuipdOne, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 12:14pm

    Yes

    I don't feel like checking if New Jersey is an at will state, but if it is then they could justify the firing by saying the employees created an environment hostile to management and customers. Of course if it isn't they don't need to give any justification at all.

    Now the real issue here is if the empolyer broke the law by forcing one employee to give up the login information and then using that information. I can see that employee filing a suit against the employer based on harassemnt or something similar. Then it is perfectly reasonable to assume the employer could be found guilty of violating hacking laws for accessing a computer database with fradulently obtained login credentials.

    The real issue here is not that these guys got fired, but that an employee was forced to give personal login information to their employer.

     

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  34.  
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    Headbhang, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 12:24pm

    Re:

    "...because it won't stay outside of work..."

    And with that phrase the insidious, creeping control of the employees by their employers is justified.

    The employer pays for the work and because the worker is the source of that work, the employer suddenly feels entitled to monitor and regulate the workers' personal life... because it won't stay outside of work...

     

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  35.  
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    Ryan, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 12:27pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yes, many badly-run businesses will make many bad decisions--if this were an optimal free market, then they would eventually succumb to their poor decisions. The good ones that value their employees and get the most out of them will attract the greatest talent for the longest time.

    it is the employees who usually have the most to lose. Hence, an asymmetry of power arises, which the optimization of self-interest will inevitably translate into a sustained low-level abuse/exploitation of the employees.

    1) Before any agreement takes place, the employer controls the money. Why should they be forced to part with this on the basis that somebody else would really, really like to have it?

    2) I don't really see an asymmetry of power--if the employee would prefer to leave, they may leave. If they can't find a better job elsewhere, then perhaps they are being paid their correct worth. And what are they standing to lose? Without the employer, they have no job at all.

    3) You seem to think that businesses don't have much to lose, but the failure rate of restaurants is astounding, and quite often is a significant loss on investment. And of course, all those employees that previously had jobs with that employer that we tried to tell what to do to the detriment of their success are now out of jobs.

     

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  36.  
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    NUXI, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 12:31pm

     

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  37.  
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    DJ, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 12:33pm

    Re: Re: Data breach

    unless the login information was volunteered by the authorized user. In which case, the "force" used to coerce said user into giving his/her info would have to be proven.

     

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  38.  
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    DJ, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 12:40pm

    Re:

    "Employers should be able to fire their employees for any reason they want, or no reason at all."


    As long as the reasons and/or causes for possible termination thereof are delineated in the original employment contract. In other words, if the termination of employment is in accordance with the contract, then it's perfectly legal; otherwise it's not.
    Employers do have the right to state in the contract that they retain the right to fire an employee for no apparent reason at all; it just has to be so stated in the contract.

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 12:46pm

    Re: "Private online group" is an oxymoron

    Hi Susan,

    Thank you so much for your commentary. I always wondered why I received a so-and-so is trying to contact you on WindowsLive when I never had a WindowsLive Account.

    When I started at Mr.Softy, Microsoft that is, I was alarmed when I started receiving facebook updates to my corporate email account pointing me to a Facebook page I've never had, never wanted to have, and ultimately had to contact Facebook to delete the account.

    I think this is a horrible, horrible trick, and because of Microsoft's inability to reactivate the previous account. I am certain was used in discussions behind closed doors, and this dictated what I shared with others to becoming merely an observer.

    I have no problem sharing with the world various other observations as they themselves seem to not observe personal privacy. Perhaps you'll consider revisiting yours?

    I bid you Good Day,
    Ma'am.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    DJ, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 12:53pm

    Re: Yes

    "The real issue here is not that these guys got fired...."

    Umm...that's the tag-line for the original post; so yeah it is.

    And, as many of us have stated, the legality of the employment termination comes down to state law, and original employment contracts. So, unless someone replying here is a Bar-certified NJ lawyer (or otherwise competent NJ legal professional), everything said here is nothing but speculation.

    But I see your point too. What, exactly, does "forced to give personal login information" mean in this instance?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 12:54pm

    I don't care if your kids have a play tonight. Work extra or your fired.
    Honeymoon? I don't think so. Work this weekend or your fired.

    The truth is that there are more jobs than there are people. And people have these little needs like food, shelter, etc. What does an employer care if someone quits. There's 10 more people ready to take the job. The only employees that are semi-safe are the ones with hard to replace skills/knowledge.

    Combine basic human(business) greed with having almost all of the barganing power in the employer/employee relationship and it's the eployee's that will always suffer.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    Another AC, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 12:59pm

    OK, so what has changed...

    I have seen many people get fired from various types of jobs for running their mouths and it got back to management.

    Not to mention, you have to be an idiot to put that crap in writing next to a picture of yourself.

    I live in an "employment at will" state and you can pretty much let anyone go for any reason as long as it does violate any discrimination laws.

    Unless threatened with death, they should not have given up the login info, which would have clearly been a crime if it could be proven. But that employee could have just as easily printed out or PDF'd the pages so I dont know that it really matters.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    identicon
    lulz, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 1:06pm

    Re: "Private online group" is an oxymoron

    What troubles me is if employers start checking up on their employees. "Oh, was that a half naked picture on your Myspace? FIRED." How is that a liability to your company that your employees have personal lives?
    No need to be hard-asses about things, sheesh.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    Tgeigs, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 1:22pm

    Re: OK, so what has changed...

    "But that employee could have just as easily printed out or PDF'd the pages so I dont know that it really matters."

    I think it matters only in the sense that businesses need to understand that if they tell me they want to see what I've said inside a private group/space/entity/etc. that I've participated in outside of normal work hours, I can tell them to go fuck themselves (using more polite words, of course). I had an employer once tell me they wanted me to stop working my 2nd job. I said no, that's none of your business.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    Ted Nancy, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 1:33pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: (Worlds Best Troll)

    Yes, businesses will refer to their "human capital" as an asset, so as to gauge their value.

    Should Human Capital valuations be included in a company's overall valuation?

    Doesn't mean that they don't have to consider things like loyalty, morale, incentives, etc. so as to get the most out of their employees. What point are you making?

    Perhaps the carrot is in front of the wrong rabbit. Such a deviation from the norm is quite subtle on the surface, but doesn't take into consideration the fact that the rabbit you're trying to catch will continue to be 2 to 3 steps ahead of you. Management lacking this type of foresight often exhibit an ideology that "Good enough is what to aspire to". This usually occurs at a senior management level where they would be content with what is already at market without concern to the fact the silly rabbit your trying to catch is, when you reach the point of parity, will remain again, 3 or 4 steps ahead of you.

    I agree; we don't know what was said in this forum, nor the quality of employees that were fired, but it seems in general that considering criticism would be a much better strategy in the long run than silencing it. Doesn't mean that businesses should be forced to follow that strategy at all times, however.

    Sure. It's a learning process, and now your learning. I recently reccomended a friend to work at CP+B based on their abilities to forsee future events.

    As an offshoot, did you know Jerry Seinfeld's Birthday is in a few days. Perhaps you should send him some flowers or something nice.

    He recently said this about Birthdays, which seems to coinside with my own birthday, which probably has no bearing in this thread, but nonetheless I feel it's worth sharing:

    “Well, birthdays are merely symbolic of how another year has gone by and how little we've grown. No matter how desperate we are that someday a better self will emerge, with each flicker of the candles on the cake, we know it's not to be, that for the rest of our sad, wretched pathetic lives, this is who we areto the bitter end. Inevitably, irrevocably; happy birthday? No such thing.”

    Perhaps I agree with Jerry on some level or another, but being fired at the company I aspired to work for, three times, is quite the accomplishment, I think, especially considering the Jerry+Seinfeld ad was one of the best talked about ads to come out of Redmond. Perhaps I chose Jerry because he was funny, and I shared his sense of humor. Perhaps my own birthday is the same as Jerry's and like myself wasn't around people who could take the joke, and overall was the reason we collectively were fired. Maybe not on the same day, but hey, it was the same.

    I don't really agree with this. Why force the hand of business owners?

    Indeed.

    It's their money they're handing out in wages. Things like loyalty and reputation are sufficient to convince most employers to treat their employees with respect anyway--limiting options merely decreases employers' incentive to hire people.

    Sure, but what happens outside of the office is outside the office, right?

    As long as they don't infringe on their employees' passive rights, and they honor their contractual agreements, I feel that is all that is obligated of them; successful employers will go beyond.

    I still fully recommend contacting congressional leadership to enact a national "Covenant of Good Faith".

    If you have a problem with that, then there are are issues within your own company to be themselves. In this day, People work all the time from home, from the office, remotely or whatever.

    If you have a problem with them being a useful instrument in your company, then I have a problem with you honoring the idea that their office is an extension of their home.

    Find a solution to that and get back to me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 1:37pm

    Re:

    "Employers should be able to fire their employees for any reason they want, or no reason at all."

    I believe you're referring to "at will employment" which is actually in place in many states. However, if a contract is signed, both employee and employer must stick to the contract.

    If you signed a contract to buy gas from that station as long as it met certain conditions, then yes, suddenly switching gas stations is going to cause legal problems.

    Also, you can't fire someone based on any sort of discrimination and while technically you can't refuse to hire based on discrimination, thats only proven in cases where there's just one qualified applicant (otherwise, its difficult to prove it wasn't just one seemed better fit to the job).

    The reasons these safeguards are in place are to ensure that a majority of the population can actually make a living instead of just employers committing massive abuses to society as a whole (which you've already failed to understand, so i'll make it clear; its a bad thing). Hence minimum wages, various rules about employment, etc.

    It was the type of attitude you're portraying that actually gave rise to unions. In reality, people like you gave birth to unions which at one time seemed like a good idea, but now are a mixed bag.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    identicon
    mobiGeek, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 1:37pm

    Re: Re: Forced to hand over login?

    From my understanding of employment laws in most of the US, they can fire you for whatever reason they want, short of discrimination of race, religion, gender, age, etc...

    The fact that she handed the info over doesn't protect her from being fired. IMO, she has done no one a favor by doing so.

    She could sue for wrongful dismissal if they do not compensate her properly based on time worked at the place, but that is all.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    identicon
    mobiGeek, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 1:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Care to cite any legislation around this? It is completely out of line with my experiences, but I've certainly spoken with lots of people who *claim* these types of protections exists.

    Other than discrimination laws, I've never seen any other type of general employment law giving such protections.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
    identicon
    Ryan, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 1:49pm

    Re:

    The truth is that there are more jobs than there are people. And people have these little needs like food, shelter, etc. What does an employer care if someone quits. There's 10 more people ready to take the job. The only employees that are semi-safe are the ones with hard to replace skills/knowledge.

    Assuming the workplace exists as in your grim scenario...one individual is fired for not performing a task as well as another unemployed individual could, and the latter is subsequently hired as a replacement. What's the issue here? Should the unemployed worker have stayed unemployed? Do they not have "little needs like food, shelter, etc."?

    The business is now better off because it has a more valuable employee, the net amount of unemployed is unchanged, and now that the business is more efficient, perhaps it will make enough extra to hire one more person. Why should the employer be forced to retain the original employee at the expense of not only the business, but the better employee on the street?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
    identicon
    mobiGeek, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 1:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: depends on the state, depends on what is said

    Good employers do not fire people on a whim. They recognize there is a COST to firing someone and to retraining someone else.

    Unions form at shops where employees are not satisfied that they have a fair voice. This almost certainly ends up being a bad employer.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 1:51pm

    Where is the fucking line? When the employer takes liberty to request an IP address?

    In an online forum, your debating the FUCKING IDEA not the God Damned PERSON.

    JOIN IN, you assholes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  
    identicon
    mobiGeek, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 1:52pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Thank you for the wiki reference.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  
    identicon
    Overcast, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 2:04pm

    And thus; one more reason that I am able to answer "no" when I'm asked if I have a Facebook or MySpace page.

    Taking into consideration the overwhelming stupidity of people in general - that's the way it will stay - for me.

    I'm glad I don't have one!

    But outta curiosity - what restaurant was that? After all - they can fire who they want and for whatever reasons. Just like I can ask 'what restaurant was it'.

    Since I too; have the say so in where I buy things.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54.  
    identicon
    terminator 666, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 2:06pm

    Re: In Arkansas

    I can terminate my employer, as the CIA would have put it, "with extreme prejudice", without providing a reason, too. So can anyone else. Perhaps employers should contemplate this.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 2:19pm

    Re: Re:

    Thank you for your incredible ideolog.

    I believe you're referring to "at will employment" which is actually in place in many states. However, if a contract is signed, both employee and employer must stick to the contract.

    Tell me something dramatic. Maybe something with fire or disappearance of a loved one.

    I believe you're referring to "at will employment" which is actually in place in many states. However, if a contract is signed, both employee and employer must stick to the contract.

    Within the Credit Card Industry, many similar agreements have often been found to be signed by Mickey Mouse.

    If you signed a contract to buy gas from that station as long as it met certain conditions, then yes, suddenly switching gas stations is going to cause legal problems.

    Sure I'll think about that while I pay at the pump.

    Also, you can't fire someone based on any sort of discrimination and while technically you can't refuse to hire based on discrimination, thats only proven in cases where there's just one qualified applicant (otherwise, its difficult to prove it wasn't just one seemed better fit to the job).

    Perhaps there's some truth to that. However, I decided long ago that I would never, ever work for you again, moved across the country to find someone who would find my ideas valuable. Mindgames are not for me. Logistics rule. Good luck with your political company.

    It was the type of attitude you're portraying that actually gave rise to unions. In reality, people like you gave birth to unions which at one time seemed like a good idea, but now are a mixed bag.

    I enjoy challenges. Maybe this was why WaMU is now owned by Chase. Maybe it's why MySQL is owned by Sun.

    I gave you 3 chances, which I believe is fair.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  56.  
    identicon
    Cipher-0, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 2:20pm

    Re:

    its the employer who has to deal with the employees and what they say outside of work. because it wont stay outside of work.

    Unless it can be shown to have a direct impact on the work being done, it's my feeling the employer has absolutely no rights as to what's done outside of work.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  57.  
    identicon
    Never dine at a Houston's restaurant again, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 2:23pm

    I dine out frequently, and Houston's management should be concerned

    After checking the link, and finding that the restaurant involved was one that I was actually considering going to, I can now state with certainty that I will never, ever do so. I will also advise all of my family, friends and casual acquaintances that to dine at Houston's restaurant it to legitimize corporate fascism, and fund it, as well. Houston's Restaurant management is quite obviously one of the biggest bunches of slack-jawed, nitwit losers in the business, and they richly deserve to be run out of business. All you defenders of this type of corporate gestapo behaviour are people I hold in utter contempt, and if you own a business, please let us know the name, so you may be boycotted, as well. I weary of the sanctimonious rantings of the pillars of corporate Amerika that blithely attempt to defend the indefensible. I think the lawsuits for violations of privacy should ensue quickly. I'd bet that the restaurant management even spy on their own customers, too. What a disgusting bunch of perverts they must be. Wonder if they also have restroom cameras?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  58.  
    identicon
    torchyluv, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 2:31pm

    privacy

    i guess nothing is really sacred anymore. its a private group, doesnt the freedom of speech right count in this case? if the employees used company computers chat on the group, maybe they have a case, but then again this is a restaurant. i use this digital security resource site a lot, called justaskgemalto, take a look the articles on privacy, http://www.justaskgemalto.com/en/search/node/privacy

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  59.  
    identicon
    Tgeigs, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 2:36pm

    Re: privacy

    I tend to agree w/you except for one important distinction:

    Freedom of Speech does not gurantee Freedom of Speech w/o any consquences whatsoever. In fact, unless I have my laws crisscrossed, that part begins with "CONGRESS shall make no law..."

    What an employer does isn't covered.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  60.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 3:24pm

    Authorized?

    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).

    Was the employee who handed over her login authorized to grant access to others? If not (and I doubt that she was) then it seems to me that the company access was indeed unauthorized and in violation of the law.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  61.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 4:00pm

    Whether or not it's legal, the fact of the matter is that they were fired for it. Regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit, things won't be the same for any of those involved.

    Moral: play fair, but don't expect anyone else to

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  62.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 4:28pm

    Re:

    Moral: play fair, but don't expect anyone else to

    Sure. However, when you look around, and see the kids, they don't own anything. They're been told to do everything right, be good kids and everything will be okay, but they don't own anything.

    Ownership, it seems, is now the privilege of the wealthy. Most of this indoctrination started around 1994. Don't worry about politics, we'll take care of that with No Child Left Behind and remove civics and political science from curriculum.

    This is the underlying principal of Anon provides. What changed is that the game changed. You never adopted. Ten years ago we got the hint. We know.

    Good. Read this book: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/28/books/28kaku.html?pagewanted=1&th&emc=th

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  63.  
    identicon
    H.K., Apr 28th, 2009 @ 8:14pm

    There are numerous strings attached to using social networks, most of which people do not seem to be aware of. Besides the security risks, privacy regarding text and photos is as demonstrated here a significant concern. I read a good article here* about the digital security concerns associated with social networking.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  64.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 8:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    1) No one is saying they have to give away their money. Employment isn't I sit there and you give me money.

    2) Asymmetry of power exists. Employer treats employee badly, knowing the job market is bad. Employee has no means of defense due to employer holding their job in the balance.

    3) This is just a strawman, here. Has nothing at all to do with the article or previous argument.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  65.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 8:28pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    You don't even make any sense. You're fired.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  66.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 8:35pm

    Re: In Arkansas

    This is true. However, if a reason is not given, unemployment benefits may result. As an employee, I have a right to ask for a reason at the time of termination, and that will weigh against the employer.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  67.  
    identicon
    Luci, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 8:54pm

    Re:

    Per the linked article:

    'The case in New Jersey centers on two employees of Houston's restaurant in Hackensack'

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  68.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 9:15pm

    Re: Re:

    Ada title II
    Wanna chat about that?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  69.  
    identicon
    nasch, Apr 29th, 2009 @ 9:21am

    Re: Re: Re: Forced to hand over login?

    Is there no protection against being fired for something not work related?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  70.  
    identicon
    nasch, Apr 29th, 2009 @ 9:26am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    There might be some information about that online

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  71.  
    identicon
    nasch, Apr 29th, 2009 @ 9:29am

    Re: Re: Re:

    No, people are not property, and neither are businesses.

    In what universe are businesses not property?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  72.  
    identicon
    Chuck Chandler, Apr 29th, 2009 @ 2:48pm

    Re: depends on the state, depends on what is said

    That is incorrect. In Illinois, an employee (non-contract) can be fired for any/no reason. You are an at-will employee. If you are represented by a union then there should be provisions for termination but enforcement of those provisions would be covered under federal law not state.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  73.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 30th, 2009 @ 10:21am

    Re: Re:

    As long as the reasons and/or causes for possible termination thereof are delineated in the original employment contract.

    Most employees, in the US at least, don't have contracts.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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