May an employee be disciplined for posting negative comments on Facebook or another social networking site?

Author: Jessica Sussman

It depends. An employer may discipline an employee for posting negative comments on a social networking site if the employee's comments are harassing, offensive or inappropriate, and not related to employment issues. However, if the posts could be interpreted as engaging in protected concerted activity with coworkers and are related to employee working conditions, an employer risks violating the National Labor Relations Act. On the other hand, if the negative comments involve an individual grievance, with no attempt to enlist other employees in a joint action or discuss wages and working conditions, disciplining the employee for the negative posting is appropriate. Some states, however, have laws prohibiting employers from terminating an employee for off-duty activities, which would include activities on social networking sites, absent a showing that the activity caused actual harm to the employer.