By David L., Jr. Hudson
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Extra info for Blogging (Point Counterpoint)
Some states have broader exceptions to the at-will doctrine, while other states are called “atwill” states because they recognize few or no exceptions. Some employees may be protected for their blogging if the content of their blogging constitutes “whistle blowing”—calling out unlawful employer conduct. 56 Such speech should be protected. The National Labor Relations Act may protect employees who blog about labor conditions in their workforce. ” Professor Katherine M. Scott explains that: . . various laws limit an employer’s control over what employees write, especially outside of working hours.
Whitney worked for Wells Fargo in their mailroom and lost his job after his bosses learned that he criticized fellow employees on his blog. “Right now it’s too gray,” Whitney told USA Today. “There needs to be clearer guidelines. Some people go to a bar and complain about workers. I decided to do it online. Some people say I deserve what happened, but it was really harsh. ”46 The First Amendment limits the ability of public employers to punish off-duty employee speech. Employees who work for the federal, state, or local government—public employees—retain some level of First Amendment protection.
There should not be less protection for employees who speak out in their blogs. It is hoped that this area of the law will catch up to reality and provide the necessary protection for employees. Many employee-bloggers are in the best position to inform the public about pressing societal issues. They know the issues because their employment puts them in the center of the areas about which they write. There is a strong First Amendment–based interest in allowing these people to blog without fear of reprisal.