But employee and non-employee bloggers don’t have the same legal protections.
Workers who rant or rave about bosses online — whether it’s done on the company clock or at home — generally don’t have a strong defense.
In most states, employees who don’t have a contract are considered “at-will,” which means they can quit at any time and for any reason. Conversely, employers have the right to fire them at any time and for any reason, except for well-known exceptions like race, age or gender.
So whether a supervisor discovers an underling ridiculing his thinning hair at the company elevator bank, at a local bar after work, or on the worker’s personal blog doesn’t matter. In either instance, the boss can turn around and say, ” ‘We don’t need you. Why don’t you go work for someone else?’ ” said Margaret Edwards, a partner with Littler Mendelson, a national law firm that represents employers.
Cliff Palefsky, a San Francisco employment lawyer, says there’s a false sense that employers can’t punish their workers for voicing personal opinions — on their blogs or anywhere else. “People mistakenly believe that the First Amendment protects them in the workplace, which is generally not the case,” he said.