Is it legal to be fired over an on-line post, when other people post worse things?

UPDATED: Aug 31, 2011

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Is it legal to be fired over an on-line post, when other people post worse things?

I work for a utility company and was forced to work a 15 hour night shift, as you probably can imagine it was hard, so I went on my private facebook page and posted a comment and a co-worker that I was “friends” with told on me. My boss was on vacation so it never went through the “normal” channels, it was taken directly to HR. Is this legal? Especially if I never stated the actual company’s name?

Asked on August 31, 2011 New Jersey


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Did you have an employment contract or union agreement that prohibited termination under these circumstances? Was such a discharge against existing company policy? Was your firing the result of actionable discrimination (i.e. based on your religion, gender, race, etc). If you answer to all of the above is, "No", then you were an "at will" employee. Accordingly your employer could set the terms and conditions of your employment as it saw fit. This included your dismissal for this reason, any reason, or no reason at all. This is true regardless of how other employees were treated.

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 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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