Free-ish speech online

Where does the line fall between your right to free speech and your employer’s right to protect its reputation? The world is still figuring that out.

In case you missed it, the National Labor Relations Board won an important lawsuit against American Medical Response of Connecticut, Inc last week. The NLRB had sued the company after it fired a worker who had turned to her Facebook page to vent her frustrations about her boss.

As a result of its loss in court, American Medical Response will change its blogging and Internet policies, as well as two other policies that forbade employees to say negative things about the company over the Internet, according to an article for the AP.

The decision is believed to inspire employers around the country to review their Internet policies. However, while this case helps set a precedent for free speech on the Internet–particularly when it involves the workplace, don’t take it as a free pass to go spouting off about your employer online. The jury is still out when it comes to just how far employee rights to free speech extend on social media.

“‘The line can go over into disloyalty or disclosure of truly confidential information'” warned a labor and employment lawyer for the NLRB, “‘this is not without boundaries, but we just don’t have a good sense yet of where the boundaries are.'”

It seems that we as a society are still adapting old laws to a new world dominated by online media, and it is a tough course to navigate. While it looks as though steps are being taken to ensure employees’ rights to free speech on social media, err on the side of caution when posting about your employer.

I recommend only saying things that you wouldn’t be ashamed to repeat in person.

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