Privacy Claims Based on Facebook Firing Rejected by Texas Court

Privacy Claims Based on Facebook Firing Rejected by Texas Court

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This case involved Emergency Medical Technicians who were fired for making intemperate statements on Facebook. (One EMT said she wanted to “slap” a patient; the other concurred with another EMT's statements that restraints were appropriate.) The EMT's appeal involved his intrusion of seclusion claim based on the fact that his co-workers and bosses saw his comment to the other EMT’s post. The EMT lost, and his “I didn’t understand Facebook settings" argument is kicked to the curb.

You should assume everything you post to an electronic network is public and might some day resurface. Because it is as a practical matter, and courts will treat it as such. The EMT was even warned that “the public sees [her] posts,” but she nevertheless continued her rant.

The NLRB recently issued one of its first decisions on Facebook firings and the effect of an employer’s policy. Here’s the NLRB’s release: “NLRB finds Facebook posting that caused salesman’s discharge at Chicago-area BMW dealership was not protected.” The NLRB case involved an employee at an auto dealership who was terminated for Facebook posts. The NLRB took the auto dealer-employer to task for an overly broad policy (with a dissenting opinion). Interestingly, the board found that one of the posts—that complained about the quality of food at a customer event—was protected, but a different post actually precipitated the firing.

Roberts v. Careflite, 2012 Tex. App. LEXIS 8371 (Tex. Ct. App.; Oct. 4, 2012)

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