FREEDOM OF SPEECH v. EMPLOYMENT RIGHTS IN VIRGINIA

If you have read a newspaper or listened to the TV news in the last 2 weeks, you may have heard about an employee who sued her employer for wrongful discharge.

Basically, the facts are:
Employee (we will call her Sue) is angry at boss, employer, and goes home and logs on to Facebook and says something not very nice, for example “Those scummy people at Virginia Corporation Inc. They are all jerks.”

Someone from work, lets call him Stu, is friends with Sue, reads the post and tells Boss Man.
Boss Man fires Sue for violating company policy. A real article on what happened is here.

Sue is even madder, and sues for Wrongful Discharge.

Apparently, Sue got some money out of the deal.

Now, why am I writing about this case? I am writing to tell Virginians that they will not be afforded the protection Sue was. They will not get money if they say bad things on Facebook and then get fired. Trust me.

1. Sue was clearly in a Union which comes with certain protections and rules, etc.
2. Most Virginians are not in a Union and so they can be fired for any reason but for race, gender, religious faith or Age.
3. In Virginia, “At Will” employees have few protections.
4. Likely, the lawyer for a Virginia company would not only fire Sue, but then sue Sue for defamation.

Please, do not take this case to mean that you have some protections online. You may have the right to express yourself free from criminal prosecution, but there are always consequences.

Use your brain and DO NOT EVER WRITE ABOUT YOUR JOB, YOUR WORK, YOUR CO-WORKERS etc. on the INTERWEBS.

Maybe you didn’t hear me.

Use your brain and DO NOT EVER WRITE ABOUT YOUR JOB, YOUR WORK, YOUR CO-WORKERS etc. on the INTERWEBS.

amen.

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Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at lellerman@frithlawfirm.com.