Was I wrongfully terminated from my job if I worked for a non-profit that fired me because I re-posted election news on my personal Facebook account on my day off?

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Was I wrongfully terminated from my job if I worked for a non-profit that fired me because I re-posted election news on my personal Facebook account on my day off?

I should mention that I am also a volunteer. The non-profit doesn’t have enough money to even pay me but they consider me an employee. They say that there is a law that states it is illegal for any employee of a non-profit to post anything political, divisive, or basically anything that may upset people. I am not even sure if that is true. I feel like the Non-Profit has to obey that law, as well as employees that are using their website, computers, the non-profit’s social media, etc. However, on my day off, on my personal computer, on my personal Facebook page. That is different. By law… I should be protected under my freedom of speech and my freedom of expression. I was sharing news with my friends on Facebook on my day off. It is a personal account, and it is definitely not owned by the non-profit. This Facebook was made many years before the non-profit even existed. And these were not opinions I was posting. They were news links, with interesting information. I have a network of friends, that don’t have televisions so we get our news from the internet and we share what we learn. That’s how we stay up to date on current events.

Asked on November 15, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Rhode Island

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

1) Unless you worked for the government, the 1st Amendment protections for freedom of speech, etc. do not apply; the protections in the Bill of Rights apply against government action, not private entity (private company or non-profit) action. A private entity does not have to respect your freedom of speech.
2) If you did not have an employment contract preventing them from terminating you for this reason or in this way (e.g. without some specific process or evidence, etc.), you were an "employee at will" and could be terminated at any time, for any reason whatsoever. 
Therefore, if you worked for a private entity, you could be terminated for this reason, since you could be terminated for any reason.


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