If my boss threatened me in an email and told me that I can’t post anything about our office on Facebook, is that legal?

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If my boss threatened me in an email and told me that I can’t post anything about our office on Facebook, is that legal?

He sent me an email viciously attacking another employee calling her a liar and schemer and said she pays the martyr for sympathy and in the same email told me that I was not to post anything about our office on face book and told me to delete the email immediately and told me that if it ever surfaced then there would be hell to pay. Can he do this? Is he overstepping his boundaries?

Asked on January 16, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Alabama

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

1) A employer can tell you to not post about the business on facebook, with the two exceptions below--in fact, the employer could make it a term or condition of employment that you do not use facebook or have a facebook account; anyone who did not want to  honor that restriction could look for alternate employment or risk termination.

The two exceptions:

a) If you work for the government, the first amendment freedom of speech applies against your employer (it does not apply to private employers).

b) You can't be barred from union, collective bargaining, etc. related activities or posts.

2) The other employee may have been defamed by the boss, if any factual allegations (e.g. that she lies) are untrue. (Untrue factual statements made against someone to another person, which damage the first person's reputation, may be defamation.) In that case, she could theoretically have a cause of action.


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