What rights do employers have to read your group messages?

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What rights do employers have to read your group messages?

I was recently fired from my job due to a group chat I was in. The group chat was made up of a few employees and someone who had just gotten fired. The group chat was on Group Me, no messages were sent via a company computer. In the group chat we were discussing the corruption going on around the business and our feelings towards the managers. On the table when I was fired was a packet full of screenshots from our group message. Do they even have he right to do this?

basically they fired me bc of things I

said about the management in the

buisness.

Asked on November 20, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Mississippi

Answers:

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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If your employer had a social networking policy and you violated it, then that was grounds for termination. The fact is that most businesses prohibit posting anything disparaging about the company. Most states have “at will employment” which means that an employer can discharge a worker for anything that does not violate an employment contract/union agreement or constitute legally actionable discrimination/retalaition. That having been said, while an employer has the right to take action against an employee for engaging in prohibited uses of social media, some states have laws which prohibit an employer from disciplining its employees from certain conduct outside of the workplace which are written broadly enough to cover online activity. Further, a social networking policy that is too restrictive may be a violation of a worker’s rights under the National Labor Relations Act which protects the rights of employees to engage in “concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.” This section gives employees the right to speak out regarding workplace conditions (i.e. and the formation of a union, etc.). Therefore, employers’ social networking policies that prohibit such online conduct that might be considered a violation an employee’s Section 7 rights. At this point, you may want to contact your state's department of labor and/or an employment law attorney for further advice.


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