Can my boss require me to write a letter of apology to a co-worker for something that was insinuated from my personal facebook page?

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Can my boss require me to write a letter of apology to a co-worker for something that was insinuated from my personal facebook page?

I vented on facebook but mentioned no name. This co-worker is not friends with me on facebook. Someone said something a month and a half later and she is now feeling that I must write an apology. Is it not my first amendment right to say something on my fb page which is personal and not business related?

Asked on April 19, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

There are only two questions that matter:

1) Do you work for the government? The First Amendment right to free speech only applies to government action--it does not apply to private employers.

2) Do you have an employment contract? If you do, and if it lays out a process or grounds for discipline, your employer may only take disciplinary action in accordance with it.

If the answers to the two questions are "no," however, then your employer can require you to write an apology for something you wrote or insinuated on Facebook. If you don't do so, the employer may suspend, demote, or even terminate you.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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