I feel like, last week, I was a little harsh on ADA plaintiffs. So, today, to show
mercy that I’m an equal-opportunity jerk, I’ll focus on people who either lost their jobs or stand on pretty precarious footing because of social media.
- A Secret Service agent for President Trump posted on Facebook that she would take jail over a bullet for the President. (Max Greenwood reporting at TheHill.com)
- An Illinois real estate agent was fired following a Twitter spat with comedian Patton Oswalt, in which the former employee claimed to be channeling Mr. Oswalt’s recently-deceased wife’s opinions. (Tracy Swartz reporting at The Chicago Tribune)
- A NM councilman, who was fired from his private-sector job, for insensitive comments about the Women’s March is exploring a lawsuit against his former employer (Adrian C. Hedden reporting at Carlsbad Current-Argus)
- A Facebook post captured a FedEx driver scuffling with protesters in an attempt to thwart a flag burning. He’ll keep his job. (Stephen Gruber-Miller and Jeff Charis-Carlson reporting at Iowa City Press-Citizen)
- A man annoyed by a female school teacher’s attitude towards police outed her on a Facebook as a former porn star. She subsequently lost her job. (Jessica Schladebeck reporting at NY Daily News)
Notice a theme here?
[For the love of God, stop clicking on that last story, there’s only so much bubble gum I can stick to my titanium server to hold it together before before you crash it.]
As I was saying, the tie that binds these stories is that they involve off-the job conduct. (Indeed, someone else posted off-the-clock about the FedEx driver). Yes, you can discipline employees — even fire them — for off-duty social media use.
What about the First Amendment? Well, what about it!
In the public sector, free-speech rights are limited. I suspect that a Secret Service agent, lamenting about how she’d rather do hard time than do her job, doesn’t qualify. And, in the private sector, free-speech rights don’t exist. Although the New Mexico public official claims to be exploring a lawsuit centered around his right to free speech, he was fired from his private-sector job. I suspect that he’s just blowing smoke; the free-speech myth is the toothless tiger.