On a Saturday morning in October 2010, Mariana Cole-Rivera, a domestic violence advocate at the group Hispanics United of Buffalo, began the Facebook thread that would get her fired. She wrote, “Lydia Cruz, a coworker feels that we don’t help our clients enough at HUB. I about had it! My fellow coworkers how do you feel?”
Their boss said their Facebook thread violated HUB’s harassment policy by disparaging a co-worker. The workers took their case to the National Labor Relations Board, the federal agency charged with interpreting and enforcing U.S. labor law. A judge sided with them, but now the case is on appeal, and it’s poised to help answer a question for the socially networked era: Which Facebook posts can get you fired? As more and more of our daily speech migrates online, business groups are hoping that the NLRB will make it easier for employers to control that speech.
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