Chalk One Up For Labor - Employers Better Not Fire You for What You Say Online About Them

Score one for the people. The National Labor board won a case for a worker fired because she slammed her boss on Facebook.

Employers should think twice before trying to restrict workers from talking about their jobs on Facebook or other social media.

That's the message the government sent on Monday as it settled a closely watched lawsuit against a Connecticut ambulance company that fired an employee after she went on Facebook to criticize her boss.

The National Labor Relations Board sued the company last year, arguing the worker's negative comments were protected speech under federal labor laws. The company claimed it fired the emergency medical technician because of complaints about her work.

Under the settlement with the labor board, American Medical Response of Connecticut Inc. agreed to change its blogging and Internet policy that barred workers from disparaging the company or its supervisors. The company also will revise another policy that prohibited employees from depicting the company in any way over the Internet without permission.

Both policies interfered with longstanding legal protections that allow workers to discuss wages, hours and working conditions with co-workers, the board said.

How about doing something about all of the contract workers getting stiffed, who are officially counted as small businesses, thus do not have any labor protections.

Trading Big Brother

I often wonder why there is so much effort to find out if I like peanut butter and if I buy wheat grass seed online. I also wonder when Google knows I want brownie mix, 5lbs, at 3am Sunday morning, why is it our government cannot ascertain the real unemployment rate?

What else would motivate privacy violators than creating a new type of market exchange, trading your personal online data like baseball cards.

The Wall Street Journal dug in, ran some tests and this is the summary of their investigative findings on the business of profiling you:

  • The study found that the nation's 50 top websites on average installed 64 pieces of tracking technology onto the computers of visitors, usually with no warning. A dozen sites each installed more than a hundred. The nonprofit Wikipedia installed none.
  • Tracking technology is getting smarter and more intrusive. Monitoring used to be limited mainly to "cookie" files that record websites people visit. But the Journal found new tools that scan in real time what people are doing on a Web page, then instantly assess location, income, shopping interests and even medical conditions. Some tools surreptitiously re-spawn themselves even after users try to delete them.