Constitutional Rights and Facebook

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TOPEKA, KS — Does your Freedom of Speech protect you from being fired? That’s the question after a Manhattan woman made a Facebook post criticizing the military, and then was canned from her job. Now she is seeking legal action against the company.

Nicolette Schleisman explains if a post could put your job in jeopardy.

One Facebook post left 19-year-old, Meagan May, without a job and the target of death threats.
But was the move by her boss legal?

“She would not be able to find anything in the way of constitutional law,” said Bill Rich, Professor of Constitutional Law.

Bill Rich has taught Constitutional Law at Washburn University for 30 years, he says social media is bringing up new issues in the right to free speech.

“Those can be difficult issues to analyze, in part because we don’t have a whole lot of guidance yet, and also in part because trying to draw those lines and say this was abusive, this was the kind of thing a person could be punished for,” said Rich.

Rich says in this case, because May’s former employer is a private company, they reserve the right to take action against an employee who makes a post the company does not agree with.

“Unless there is a state law that limits it, it’s perfectly constitutional. The constitutional standard only applies to the government,” said Rich.

Facebook has more than a billion users worldwide, and growing.

“Facebook is largely is a public forum so i think that you have to be aware of what you say on there and anything you post you have to be prepared to say it to whoever is connected to you and their friends,” said Faceboook user, Matt.
“I do think that we live in a different era, and i think that its sort of like an electronic billboard, you know you’re putting words out there that you might not be able to retract,” said Robin Wolgast, Facebook user.

Words you do not think twice about could stick around forever.

Meagan May says she is looking for a lawyer to take on her case. May’s former employer, Carmike Cinemas told Nicolette Schleisman, they have “no comment” about the post.

Does your Freedom of Speech protect you from being fired?

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