Are social media posts protected under the First Amendment?

Get Legal Help Today

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Are social media posts protected under the First Amendment?

I was placed on admin leave for the past 4 days. I have never been given an actual reason why. On Friday my District Manager met with me and said the original reason for the leave was unfounded. She was going to let me come back, but because I posted some things on Facebook, I am back on leave. I have my Facebook settings set to only my friends can see. It isn’t public. Which sadly means one of my “friends” ratted me out to her.

Asked on October 6, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Employers may prohibit social networking on company time or posting anything negative about the company. Therefore, if your employor had a social networking policy and you violated it, that could be grounds for disciplinary action or posibly even dismissal.
Chances are you're an "at will" employee. This means that your employer can place you on administrative leave as it deems fit, so long as it does not violate any employment contract or union agreement that exists, or if doing so constitutes some form of actionable discrimination. Accordingly, you should have refrained from engaging in such activity. 
It should be noted that while an employer has the right to take some form of action against an employee regarding prohibited uses of social media, many states have laws which prohibit employers from disciplining employees from certain conduct outside of the workplace and many are written broadly enough to cover online activity and any disparaging remarks that an employee makes. Additionally, a social networking policy that is too restrictive may be a violation of an employee&rsquos rights under the National Labor Relations Act NLRA. The Act protects an employee's rights to participate in &ldquoconcerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection". Accordingly, employees have the right to speak out in an effort to improve workplace conditions. Consequently, social networking policies that prohibit such online activity that might be considered a violation an employee&rsquos rights.
At this point, you can consult directly with an employment law attorney they can best advise you of your rights under the circumstances.


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.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption