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Worker Rights Extend To Facebook, Says NLRB

timothy posted about 4 years ago | from the ends-at-my-nose dept.

Facebook 340

wjousts writes "American Medical Response of Connecticut had a policy that barred employees from depicting the company 'in any way' on Facebook or other social media. The National Labor Relations Board has ruled that this policy runs afoul of the National Labor Relations Act, which gives employees the right to form unions and prohibits employers from punishing workers for discussing working conditions."

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FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34184694)

Work on facebook with my c0ck

Freedom of speech (2, Insightful)

JeffSpudrinski (1310127) | about 4 years ago | (#34184720)

Sure...you can say/write whatever you want.

If you write that you hate your boss...in a public forum...with your name...don't expect your boss to buy your lunch for you. ...and don't expect them to forget about that when it comes time to pick employees for layoffs.

You can say/write whatever you want...just be ready to accept the consequences.

-JJS

Re:Freedom of speech (0, Redundant)

alendit (1454311) | about 4 years ago | (#34184790)

You can do whatever you want...just be ready to accept the consequences.

Fixed it for you.

Freedom of speech... (4, Insightful)

contra_mundi (1362297) | about 4 years ago | (#34184802)

With that logic, North Korea has freedom of speech.

"You can say/write whatever you want...just be ready to accept the consequences."

The consequence just happens to be capital punishment or forced labor for years.

Re:Freedom of speech... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34184938)

With that logic, North Korea has freedom of speech.

"You can say/write whatever you want...just be ready to accept the consequences."

The consequence just happens to be capital punishment or forced labor for years.

WTF?!?!?

Way to lose all proportion there.

Since when does state tyranny have anything to do with continuing a private relationship with someone who publicly trashes you?

Re:Freedom of speech... (0)

contra_mundi (1362297) | about 4 years ago | (#34185170)

Since when does state tyranny have anything to do with continuing a private relationship with someone who publicly trashes you?

Both situations have a worker (or citizen) negatively affected by a large and powerful entity, which the worker (citizen) is a part of, because of what the worker (citizen) has said.

Regarding "private" relations: You don't think it would be a freedom of speech issue if, for example, you bashed Scientology out in public and as a consequence the Church of Scientology sent people to harass you and tried to make you look like a terrorist in the eyes of FBI (which has happened [wikipedia.org] )?

Re:Freedom of speech... (1)

IWannaBeAnAC (653701) | about 4 years ago | (#34185262)

In the end, what is the difference between state tyrrany and private tyrrany?

Re:Freedom of speech... (1)

demonlapin (527802) | about 4 years ago | (#34185332)

Your company can't kill you legally?

Re:Freedom of speech... (1)

Gerzel (240421) | about 4 years ago | (#34185286)

Indeed it is right to lose proportion because no attempt to keep proportion has been made in the first place.

It was simply stated that the boss would have right to do what he/she liked depending on what you said as a given without any proportion as a generalization.

In other words the previous poster was just pointing out the generalization and how overly broad it was.

I'm Captain Obvious and I'm here to serve!

Re:Freedom of speech... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34185010)

With that logic, North Korea has freedom of speech.

Just North Korea? You'd be surprised how some western countries use the same (well, almost) form of tyranny for anything else. In Malta, a small country in Europe, some guy got arrested for cracking a joke about the Pope on Facebook, go figure.

Re:Freedom of speech... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34185078)

In the US, a British teen was banned [slashdot.org] from the US forever for calling the President a prick, go figure.

Re:Freedom of speech... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34185302)

Ahh yes, spin spin spin that story. We don't know exactly what that kid said, or threatened. He might have gotten off easy.

A word of advice... (1)

denzacar (181829) | about 4 years ago | (#34185422)

If you gonna cite, then cite right. [gizmodo.com]

Also, "stories" by samzenpus are actually random copy/pastes from digg done by a bot.
It is an experiment into mob sourcing. [slashdot.org]
Nobody checks validity of those stories before they are posted.

Re:Freedom of speech... (1)

Kokuyo (549451) | about 4 years ago | (#34185024)

I think you're both right. One one hand, you can never truly speak your mind, unless you have absolute certainty, that no negative or positive consequences will follow.

On the other hand, there's a difference between being critical about your government or someone you have to work with on a daily basis. It must, in turn, be your bosses freedom to fire you, if the personal differences run too deeply, right?

Re:Freedom of speech... (1)

digitalchinky (650880) | about 4 years ago | (#34185064)

Speaking of consequences, I'm sure it was all high 5's, parades, hugs, and an extra sack of rice for the NK boys that sank the Cheonan - they'll live happily ever after.
What are the consequences for a government that routinely threatens various countries with annihilation if they don't get food aid or money?

Freedom of action does not always end with consequences.

Re:Freedom of speech... (4, Interesting)

RsG (809189) | about 4 years ago | (#34185090)

A distinction that's lost on many people is that "freedom of speech" in the US legal system applies to the government, not private entities. Put another way, North Korea is a bad point of comparison when talking about corporate policy.

Now, should the protection of freedom of speech apply to corporate policy? I would say yes. In my ideal world, basic human rights would be encoded into the law in such a way that they cannot be circumvented by private entities in any way. But the law in reality does not say that this is the case.

Re:Freedom of speech... (2, Interesting)

natehoy (1608657) | about 4 years ago | (#34185336)

There's a very fine line, though, when you're talking about private organizations and their willfully-employed workforce.

Does my freedom of speech extend to, say, lying about something between myself and my employer in public? Selling or giving away their corporate databases? Detailing how cool our security system is including placement and models of cameras and door locking systems? Announcing that I had a really bad day and detailing the personal problems that someone else had that led to my bad day, including their name and phone number? Calling out customers who had late payments by name and including their phone numbers? I'd argue "no".

I'd say if you were experiencing unacceptable working conditions, the employer should not have the right to fire you for saying so in public if you can prove what you are saying. You'll get better traction reporting it to OSHA or someone who can do something about it, but whatever. Telling the truth should never have legal ramifications.

Similarly, just saying you had a bad day because you had a bad day doesn't really reflect negatively on your workplace, unless you make a habit of saying "[employer] sucks!" or something. It's work. You'll have bad days. We all do. Most of us refrain from saying it because, well, no one wants to read constant whining anyway, and we generally don't blame our employers and don't want to associate negativity with the companies that treat us well overall, but those who do should be able to freely as long as they don't make up stuff about their employer in the process or constantly bash their employer without any justification.

If what you say is completely unrelated to work, then there should be no work ramifications unless your personal reputation is somehow critical to the company (CEO, important sales reps or public-facing representatives, etc). "Man, did I get drunk last night, how many hookers did I bang again, and man that blow was good...?" might be enough to get you a serious write-up if you call in sick the next day and claim it was a cold, but abusing a single sick day is rarely a "termination" offense unless it's at the end of a long pattern of same. You might also be subject to a drug test, and you might lose your job if you fail it, but that's being terminated due to a violation of a clear policy, not because you yakked about it on MyFaceTweet. You offered up evidence of a violation of a policy, they followed up on the evidence you gave them. Don't like that idea? Then don't violate your company's policies, pick a company to work for that has policies you can live with, or at least shut the hell up about it in public.

You should have the freedom to speak your mind as long as you make it clear it's your opinion, and you should have the freedom to tell the truth all the time, but you don't have the right to violate any valid restrictions your employer might place in order to protect their reputation from damage (unless said damage is deserved), and their data from unauthorized distribution (ever), nor should any confessions you might make in public about your own wrongdoing be considered off-limits to your employer, as long as the wrongdoing directly affects your employment (admitting to getting drunk on a Friday night is not a work-related problem as long as you show up to work sober on Monday, admitting to getting drunk during a major sales meeting and losing a major contract as a result is most certainly one).

Re:Freedom of speech... (3, Interesting)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 4 years ago | (#34185136)

Shouldn't the concept of consequence be part of the checks and balances involved in making the moral and ethical decision on whether or not you carry out the act of speech?

Re:Freedom of speech... (1)

contra_mundi (1362297) | about 4 years ago | (#34185360)

Is that a rhetorical question? Can you clarify your position?

I guess it's good to think about it before you say it, whatever it is.

Are you implying that not all speech should be protected?
If that's case, I'd say that the best possible scenario exists somewhere in the middle: No shouting fire frivolously and no banning people from a country because of a drunken letter.

Re:Freedom of speech... (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 4 years ago | (#34185368)

I hate to have to tell you this, but the First Amendment does not apply to your boss (unless he happens to work for the government).
The First Amendment reads "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Please note that it says "Congress shall make no law...", not "No one shall ...abridge the freedom of speech...". This is an important difference. It isn't until the Fourteenth Amendment that the First Amendment comes to apply to state and local governments.

Re:Freedom of speech... (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#34185394)

>>>With that logic, North Korea has freedom of speech.

The difference is that a government holds a Monopoly on power, so if you piss them off you will find yourself in jail. In contrast a corporation does not hold a monopoly. If your speech annoys ABC Company and you get fired, you can just move to one of the millions of other companies. It's the difference between Choice and non-choice.

Of course this is why Comcast's heavy-handed punishment against users is so dangerous. In many areas comcast holds a monopoly so if they suspend your internet access, you are permanently cutoof. So "monopoly", whether it's comcast or government, takes away individual freedom. Monopoly is the thing you truly need to fear.

Re:Freedom of speech (0, Flamebait)

WCMI92 (592436) | about 4 years ago | (#34184954)

Exactly. The 1st Amendment applies to the government. Not to private relations, one of which is employment.

"Obama sucks ass" is protected speech, in that Obama can't send me to the gulag for saying it. However, if my boss is a stinky hippie from San Francisco who still things Dear Leader walks on water, he can certainly hold that against me and there's not a damn thing I can do about it.

Re:Freedom of speech (2, Insightful)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | about 4 years ago | (#34185306)

I believe that he cannot actually hold that against you (at least, not openly). He can ask you to refrain from expressing your political views at the workplace, and he will probably be looking for a good legal way to get rid of you, but I seem to recall that it's illegal to discriminate based upon political beliefs.

Re:Freedom of speech (0, Troll)

demonlapin (527802) | about 4 years ago | (#34185352)

it's illegal to discriminate based upon political beliefs

It's not. If Karl Rove applies for a job at the DNC, he can't sue for discrimination when they don't hire him.

Re:Freedom of speech (1)

IWannaBeAnAC (653701) | about 4 years ago | (#34185058)

Exactly. Same applies if an employee points out a safety issue or some illegal practice by upper management. Expect to be first against the wall when the next 'downsize' happens. The right to be screwed over by your employer is an American ideal handed to us by God. We should cherish it.

Re:Freedom of speech (2, Insightful)

wjousts (1529427) | about 4 years ago | (#34185304)

Wrong. There are laws to protect whistle blowers. If you blow the whistle and are later downsized, you may have a case for a lawsuit unless the company has documentation to show your consistent poor performance made downsizing you more logical than downsizing somebody else.

Re:Freedom of speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34185328)

And then you sue, and win, because they can't retaliate against whistleblowers. You'd have a pretty good case, even if the layoff had nothing to do with it.

Stop! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34184726)

Could we please stop every story about anything related to Facebook? That's no news for nerds, neither stuff that matters.

Re:Stop! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34185112)

Some 500M Facebook users would disagree with you. At those amounts, pretty much everything that happens there is stuff that matters. You could just stop reading these if you want to. I'm also sure that it would only take a very simple greasemonkey script to hide all news that contain the word "Facebook".

But that's not why we fired her! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34184738)

The Connecticut company denied the allegations, saying they were without merit. “The employee in question was discharged based on multiple, serious complaints about her behavior,” it said.

Sure, sure. That's all fully documented in the employee's HR file... which you're about to show to The Board... right?

Oh look (2, Insightful)

sakdoctor (1087155) | about 4 years ago | (#34184758)

Another slashdot story that takes an established event/concept/thing and makes a big deal about it because somehow facebook/twitter/social-net-dujour is involved.

I always wonder if these stories have organic origins, or bubbled up from some PR department.

Re:Oh look (5, Insightful)

T Murphy (1054674) | about 4 years ago | (#34184932)

It's not Slashdot that is giving Facebook-related stories undue weight, the ambulance service in the story specifically had a rule about Facebook and social networking (the article is unclear if they added 'Facebook' or if the rule explicitly mentions it). It seems people out there (making dumb rules) really do think something is exceptional because it happened on social networking sites.

It is often mentioned how rules and laws have to catch up with technology, but in the case of social networking, the old rules generally apply perfectly fine- except it seems people don't understand that. If anything, Slashdot's angle here isn't "it's interesting because it's on Facebook", but interest in how society has trouble adapting to technology.

Re:Oh look (0, Offtopic)

sakdoctor (1087155) | about 4 years ago | (#34185054)

To be fair, this is one of the better days. Facebook is only on the front page twice.
This story, and once annoyingly name dropped in the Wi-Fi Encryption story where it has NO relevance.

It's my hope that people will soon STFU about facebook. It's just a propitiatory communication platform, in a long line of them, after all.

Re:Oh look (2, Funny)

wjousts (1529427) | about 4 years ago | (#34185318)

Sheeze, did somebody unfriend you on Facebook or something?

Re:Oh look (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34185324)

It's my hope that people will soon STFU about facebook. It's just a propitiatory communication platform, in a long line of them, after all.

They probably won't, because of the networking effect.

US Employment Rights (3, Insightful)

Manip (656104) | about 4 years ago | (#34184796)

Frankly I'm a little surprised - since in my experience employees are more or less slaves in the US. The entire legal structure seems set up for whatever is easiest and cheapest for employers to do whatever they wish. Employees can sue, and that is often the de-facto suggestion whenever anyone in the US has a problem, but frankly a lot of situations could be avoided if they had a strong legal framework like every other developed country.

No holiday time, no sick leave, no maternity leave, no restrictions on hours worked, no mandated breaks, few health and safety regulations, can be fired without notice or reason, can legally discriminate, etc. It is like working in the third world. Between this and health care the US is low on my list of places I wish to work.

Re:US Employment Rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34184804)

And I suppose another reason you dislike the US is that everyone can sue anyone for the slightest bit of damage and win massive compensations for it?

captcha: disjoint

Re:US Employment Rights (2, Insightful)

Corbets (169101) | about 4 years ago | (#34184856)

No holiday time, no sick leave, no maternity leave, no restrictions on hours worked, no mandated breaks, few health and safety regulations, can be fired without notice or reason, can legally discriminate, etc. It is like working in the third world. Between this and health care the US is low on my list of places I wish to work.

Spoken like someone who's never worked in the US.

Re:US Employment Rights (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34184882)

Spoken like someone who's never worked in the US.

Spoken like someone who's never worked somewhere better.

Re:US Employment Rights (4, Insightful)

silentcoder (1241496) | about 4 years ago | (#34184972)

>Spoken like someone who's never worked in the US.

Yes we foreigners know that you get to try and negotiate such things in contracts - and if you're lucky enough to be going for a rare job you may get decent ones. We also know what it's like to have sane levels of these things set out in LAW, and negotiate for extras ON TOP OF that.
My country requires every employer to give employees at least 14 days a year of holiday time. But I have 21 - I got to start negotiating above that, but even the factory janitor can at least get his 14 days.

Re:US Employment Rights (-1, Offtopic)

vlm (69642) | about 4 years ago | (#34185140)

No holiday time, no sick leave, no maternity leave, no restrictions on hours worked, no mandated breaks, few health and safety regulations, can be fired without notice or reason, can legally discriminate, etc. It is like working in the third world. Between this and health care the US is low on my list of places I wish to work.

Spoken like someone who's never worked in the US.

You missed the most important part of his post:

Between this and health care the US is low on my list of places I wish to work.

This IS how illegals are treated in the US. Second hand knowledge, relatives in the fast food industry and electronic assembly industry (some is still done in the US not China, just not done by US citizens). Citizens get much better treatment, assuming their job hasn't been replaced with illegals. I'm told H1Bs "unofficially" get the same treatment, but I only have hearsay on that.

Re:US Employment Rights (5, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 4 years ago | (#34185242)

Spoken like someone who's never worked in the US

... in a white-collar office job like yours.

If you want a significantly different picture from your own employment experience, read about what was going on in the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia before the big accident. Or the many workers who are killed or maimed in preventable industrial accidents. Or the retail workers forced to work longer than the hours they put on their time card. Or the workers fired for trying to unionize. Or the workers fired for complaining about safety regulation violations. Or even better, get to know some blue-collar folks and hear about their life on the job.

Assuming you're a techie of some sort, your job probably involves sitting comfortably in an office thinking, typing, and discussing. Most jobs are nothing like that.

Re:US Employment Rights (3, Insightful)

Twanfox (185252) | about 4 years ago | (#34185372)

Unless my memory is faulty, holiday time and sick leave is an optional benefit that a company MAY provide, but is not required to. I'm not sure if maternity leave is codified into law, but there is the FMLA which allows for some UNPAID time off. To be honest, there really isn't any restriction on time worked. If your hourly, the company doesn't want to pay you overtime, but you could work it if they paid it (or if they're breaking the law and requesting it off-hours). Salaried folk I don't believe have an upper limit, and this is routinely exploited by employers. I was going to say mandatory breaks are set into law, but just a quick google search tells me that it isn't federal if it is, so it may just be my state. That and my state is an 'at-will' state of employment, which pretty much means yes, I could get fired for any reason (except for the rare case where you can prove discrimination).

I hate to say it, but most of those points are actually accurate. Most of those things are not law, just common practice to provide. If an employer desired not to offer them (usually for factory-style positions), then they won't be held accountable in court for doing so.

So did you actually work in the US too, or are you just assuming the benefits given to you are actually guaranteed, and not something nice the employer offered?

Re:US Employment Rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34185374)

Spoken like someone who's never worked in the US.

Spoken like someone who's never had an hourly-wage job in the US.

Re:US Employment Rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34185386)

Spoken like someone in a field/job where you haven't encountered most of these... I work in IT and for a global US company. We do get holiday time, very limited sick time, little to no maternity/paternity leave, no restrictions on hours worked and forced 50 hours per week minimum, safety in the US facilities is at times borderline (and we have radioactive materials/waste and lots of other nasty stuff), when traveling to other sites while we may be American we get no protection at those sites, we are "at will" as most places are so being fired at any time is possible and happens, discrimination happens... so out of that list essentially only one is incorrect.

Re:US Employment Rights (0, Redundant)

jcr (53032) | about 4 years ago | (#34184860)

in my experience employees are more or less slaves in the US.

Evidently, you don't know the definition of the word "slave".

-jcr

Re:US Employment Rights (1, Informative)

thijsh (910751) | about 4 years ago | (#34184970)

Let's see:
- Is an employee considered property, or an 'asset'?
- Can an employee be forced to do labor?
- Does an employee who does not want to do said labor walk away?

And now consider these questions knowing that the majority of people can't just quit his/her job (the ob(li)vious answer)... If 'running away' and living on the street is your only escape you are a slave by my definition.

Re:US Employment Rights (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34185050)

- Is an employee considered property, or an 'asset'?

An asset. They cannot sell me to a different company without my consent.

- Can an employee be forced to do labor?

If it's part of their contract and "forced" here means "or you'll be fired"? Yes. It's called being expected to do the job you were hired to do. Not a difficult concept.

- Does an employee who does not want to do said labor walk away?

They can. But part of real life is sometimes having to do things you don't want to do.

And now consider these questions knowing that the majority of people can't just quit his/her job (the ob(li)vious answer)... If 'running away' and living on the street is your only escape you are a slave by my definition.

Everyone can "just quit" their job. Many choose not to because they need the money. Those who do not like their job? They search for a new job, and when they find one, quit their old job and move on. Seriously, what the heck do you want from a job? The ability to do whatever the crap you want, regardless of your contract? Sounds like you either want to live off the welfare system or in the auto worker's union.

Also, while we're at it, a definition of slave:

Slavery (also called thralldom) is a form of forced labour in which people are considered to be the property of others. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand wages.

If I have to explain why that doesn't apply to employees, you're hopeless.

Re:US Employment Rights (3, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | about 4 years ago | (#34185162)

- Is an employee considered property, or an 'asset'?

An asset. They cannot sell me to a different company without my consent.

You are mostly correct, with this exception that I LOLed at. With very few exceptions, no employee consent is ever required as part of a merger/sale/takeover/bankruptcy.

Re:US Employment Rights (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | about 4 years ago | (#34185348)

That's not what he means, though. He means that companies can't sell individual employees to each other (well, sports teams can with their players, who are technically employees, so I guess there's that). A merger/etc is different.

Re:US Employment Rights (1, Insightful)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 4 years ago | (#34185188)

Bollocks, none of what you have said is true. An employer cannot simply sell you to another company as an asset (without selling the entire company to new owners, so the asset here is again not you). An employer cannot force you to do any labour, you can refuse at will - depending on the terms of your contract, that could even mean your employer has no recourse if the work he is requiring you to do sits outside that of your defined role (I as a web developer cannot be made to clean the toilets, I could refuse and if my employer took any action against me whatever then a tribuneral would rule in my favour and award me damages, my position back and other things). An employee who walks away could be sued for breach of contract, but this would take a particularly vindictive employer, and in any case the employer would be highly unlikely to win if the work requested falls outside that of the job you are employed to do.

Your last statement is the most ludicrous of all - just because you cannot walk into another job and thus are unwilling to quit your current one does not remove that option from you, and thus you are not a slave.

Re:US Employment Rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34185366)

All sounds very civil but that not how it works here (U.S.). Most states have Right To Work laws (look it up, it sucks - basically union busting/slow erosion). To get any white collar job you sign binding non-disclosure and non-compete contracts. Also, most states are At-will employment so your tribuneral (sic) is very quaint but is replaced by the phrase Dont let the door hit you on the ass on the way out! They dont have to fire you, they just have a RIF - reduction in force to get rid of whomever they want. They dont even call them layoffs any more. When the economy is as bad as it is now, most corporations cut, cut, cut and you do the work of 3 people to keep from losing your house/401k/car/etc, even if it is cleaning the toilets.

Get out of the South, and you ditch RTW. (1)

sethstorm (512897) | about 4 years ago | (#34185376)

All sounds very civil but that not how it works here (U.S.). Most states have Right To Work laws (look it up, it sucks - basically union busting/slow erosion)

Not if you live in the Free North.

Yes, they are. (2, Insightful)

sethstorm (512897) | about 4 years ago | (#34185264)

- Is an employee considered property, or an 'asset'?

Disposable property unless C-level. See employment laws and attitudes towards compensation in the US in that matter.

- Can an employee be forced to do labor?

Yes. See the forced training of offshore replacements.

- Does an employee who does not want to do said labor walk away?

The cost is made high enough that they can't walk away. See our current economy.

Re:US Employment Rights (1)

wjousts (1529427) | about 4 years ago | (#34185354)

- Is an employee considered property, or an 'asset'?

No, they are a (human) "resource".

Re:US Employment Rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34184886)

Oi!

Since everybody seems to place South Africa in the third world category, I'd just like to point out that we enjoy every one of those benefits you mentioned as provided by our law, while making it quite hard to fire people.

For once we seem better off than the US!

Re:US Employment Rights (5, Interesting)

silentcoder (1241496) | about 4 years ago | (#34184892)

Excuse me.
I live in a third world country.
We have mandatory minimum leave. We have a limit on hours worked (40 hours per week, max of 5 hours overtime - it's ILLEGAL to allow more, and if it happens you have to give the time back as time off in the SAME week to compensate), we have mandated 1-hour lunch breaks and mandated 15-minute coffee breaks at least once per 4 hours, we have complete health and safety coverage including a law that states that in the event of *any* injury on duty no matter how minor or severe the employer is legally liable for any and all direct and indirect medical expenses resulting from said injury (hence most employers have IOD insurance), employers are not allowed to discriminate (among other things this bans the creation of any rule that only applies to one gender, race etc), you aren't allowed to fire anybody unless they've had three written warnings, written warnings can only be issued after a hearing where the employee has the right to council...

Sorry - but the US is actually WORSE than at least some third world countries when it comes to workers rights.

Oh and in case you were wondering, our economy is growing and our corporations do just fine despite these laws.

Re:US Employment Rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34184996)

Is there a reason you didn't tell us what country you live in?

Re:US Employment Rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34185134)

Is there a reason you didn't tell us what country you live in?

Yes: you wouldn't have heard of it anyway.

Re:US Employment Rights (1)

martas (1439879) | about 4 years ago | (#34185032)

WTF kind of 3rd world country is this? It sounds like France, for christ's sake! Seriously, if you have all that, maybe it's time to re-classify that country? I've lived in a third world country, and I've seen two kinds of relationships between employers and employees: family members, or slave-owner/slave.

Re:US Employment Rights (5, Informative)

silentcoder (1241496) | about 4 years ago | (#34185122)

This would be the Republic of South Africa.

What makes it a third world country is this: 43% unemployment, 76% illiteracy, 82% of the population living below the official poverty line (that is below taxable income, with welfare sustainance from the other 18% - who earn salaries comparable to Europe - in fact most of us work for European countries who find they can pay us solid market related salaries and still save truckloads of money because of the favorable exchange rate).

We have massive poverty, massive problems of all sorts to deal with. But our government relies for it's vote massively on the unions who include most of that 82% poor people as members, if the unions ever tell their members to vote for the opposition - this government couldn't possibly survive an election.
Result: damn good labour laws, regardless of whether you are in the rich 18% or the poor 82%

Re:US Employment Rights (4, Insightful)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | about 4 years ago | (#34185412)

Seeing those labor laws, I bet it's rather a big factor in unemployment. I know SA has a ton of other issues that are going to take decades to get out of, but some of those rules would be a BIG headache for an entrepeneur who cannot afford the overhead.

Re:US Employment Rights (1)

RsG (809189) | about 4 years ago | (#34185128)

Going by the .za TLD his homepage links to, he's either South African or uses a service provider located there. And SA is considered a developing nation by the HDI last I checked.

Re:US Employment Rights (1)

RsG (809189) | about 4 years ago | (#34185146)

Damn, I need to start refreshing the page before I post, the post immediately above mine confirms what I thought.

Re:US Employment Rights (1)

Kokuyo (549451) | about 4 years ago | (#34185048)

This sounds rather good. Better than Switzerland, at any rate. Where do you live?

Re:US Employment Rights (1)

silentcoder (1241496) | about 4 years ago | (#34185158)

South Africa.
Sadly our maternity laws aren't as nice as Switzerland or Denmark's. We do have very good labor laws though - a natural side effect of a government that is utterly dependent on union support to get votes.

Make no mistake this is no paradise. We have one of the highest rates of violent crime in the world, massive government corruption, a current major attempt to steamroller through massive anti-free-press laws, huge poverty problems, massive service-delivery issues, - it's got a lot of problems indeed, but at least out labor laws are good and that's what is relevant to the discussion.

Re:US Employment Rights (1)

demonlapin (527802) | about 4 years ago | (#34185392)

You can only work 45 hours a week? Seriously? What about a young guy who wants to do a little overtime to make a little extra money? What about professionals, for heaven's sake?

Re:US Employment Rights (2, Interesting)

Barefoot Monkey (1657313) | about 4 years ago | (#34184894)

Frankly I'm a little surprised - since in my experience employees are more or less slaves in the US. The entire legal structure seems set up for whatever is easiest and cheapest for employers to do whatever they wish. Employees can sue, and that is often the de-facto suggestion whenever anyone in the US has a problem, but frankly a lot of situations could be avoided if they had a strong legal framework like every other developed country. No holiday time, no sick leave, no maternity leave, no restrictions on hours worked, no mandated breaks, few health and safety regulations, can be fired without notice or reason, can legally discriminate, etc. It is like working in the third world. Between this and health care the US is low on my list of places I wish to work.

Actually, here in the third world employees are guaranteed a certain amount of holiday time, sick leave and maternity leave. Firing employees requires giving them 3 month notice with full pay (although it is possible to hire with a temporary probation period, which IIRC is at most 6 months) and is subject to appeal at labour court if disputed. Oh, and don't even think about discriminating (unless it is to comply with employment equity regulations).

Re:US Employment Rights (1)

silentcoder (1241496) | about 4 years ago | (#34185000)

Sounds like we're in the same third world country :p - I actually forgot about the 3-month notice rules and the appeal court (and heck I've fought and won a case in that court once - got another 6 months pay in a settlement because I could prove the dismissal was unfair and both me and the employer agreed I wouldn't really want to go back).

Re:US Employment Rights (1)

The Terminator (300566) | about 4 years ago | (#34185012)

Could you please specify of which "Paradise" you are talking?

Re:US Employment Rights (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | about 4 years ago | (#34184908)

I kinda like it because if I'm not an incompetent moron, most of those things are none of my concern. I have all the stuff you listed, it's pretty much in my contract. Ultimately, I like to think that this just means that my tax dollars aren't wasted carrying along people who are too lazy to get good jobs.

But then, Europeans never seem to complain about "welfare moms," so maybe their system eliminates people feeding off the government? Also, instead of my tax dollars going to feed and shelter the poor (which is still something I don't think tax dollars should be wasted on) they go to bomb and pillage the poor somewhere else on the planet (which is hardly a defensible act). So, tax money is wasted either way, but at least it's mostly wasted giving hard working folk a (largely pointless) job.

Re:US Employment Rights (5, Interesting)

silentcoder (1241496) | about 4 years ago | (#34185070)

What the hell are you on about ?
How is labour laws that protect workers from exploitation (the ones who don't get those things in their contracts because there are plenty of other people who can do the job) equated to wellfare ?

There are NO tax dollars spent on ANY of those things. Nobody is giving the poor money here. What we ARE doing is making sure that those people who do their jobs get a fair and decent wage, decent safety conditions, holidays (which ARE a health and safety issue) etc. by making laws that employers are required to comply with.
If anything - those laws ENCOURAGE people to work. If your welfare check is better than the janitor job which is all you can get - of course you'll take wellfare. If the law makes sure that janitor job is better - then most people will take the job.

It's easy to say only "lazy" people can't get "Good jobs" - right - would you like to live in a country where there are no janitors at all ? No factory workers ? Where all the MacDonalds' have closed because there is nobody left who would possibly want to flip burgers to feed their kids ?

Sorry -but those people can't get your kind of benefits from negotiation - they have zero negotiating power, but they are still human beings and they deserve to have their human rights and human dignity protected by the state -that's the ONLY valid purpose the state has in fact ! This includes protecting those rights from unscrupulous employers. It also makes sound economic sense to establish labor laws that ensure employees will always be better off than welfare cases as it reduces your welfare burden.

How sad it must be to live in a country with such a narrowminded selfish culture that you honestly seem to believe that a law saying if you do your job you MUST be given at least 2 weeks holiday and if they fire you a fair hearing with council and a notice period with pay to find another job in so you don't lose your house and end up on the streets unable to ever do so... that laws like this are indistinguishable from WELLFARE to you

Re:US Employment Rights (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | about 4 years ago | (#34185166)

If employers have to provide more benefits to lower-level employees, that means they are spending less elsewhere. That displacement will likely come out of taxable commercial expenses, thus both taking tax money from the government and damaging the growth potential of that organization (reducing future taxable income).

Jobs like janitor/fry cook/night stocker are all great jobs for teens and college kids. They're terrible places to find yourself at 40. I wouldn't want to be part of society that encouraged people to spend 40 hours a week doing such menial labor when they're older.

Lastly, severance benefits in the US typically amount to unemployment pay. I personally know people in the US who have been living off of unemployment for over 2 years. This is exactly the kind of thing you are arguing in favor of here, and the kind of "welfare mom" I feel is an unnecessary burden on the government.

Re:US Employment Rights (5, Insightful)

silentcoder (1241496) | about 4 years ago | (#34185330)

>If employers have to provide more benefits to lower-level employees, that means they are spending less elsewhere. That displacement will likely come out of taxable commercial expenses, thus both taking tax money from the government and damaging the growth potential of that organization (reducing future taxable income).

I've heard this argument advanced and I have two problems with it. Problem one: you are thinking like a typical American who believes the purpose of the economy is wealthy corporations. It's not. The purpose of economy is wealthy citizens. Now let's see what is the average country ratio of employers to employees ? 1 to 1000 doesn't sound unreasonable - which group should the government be protecting here ?
Secondly - it's a false argument anyway. It's wrong on two levels. Firstly there is the mistake that if companies spend more on employees that's bad for the economy - it's not, it's not even bad for the company (except in the very short term) - increasing the buying power of employees means you have increased buying, consumption, purchasing- when all companies do that, they all benefit from each others employees buying their products more. Henry Ford understood that, and took it further making it a corporate policy to ensure that every single employee he has (including the damn janitor) can afford to buy his product. Result -damn near all of them did, that alone meant enough sales to cover the costs of those higher salaries, every sale there-after was a bonus. Sadly FORD forgot that lesson. The other reason is this: most of these other benefits are scientifically proven to increase overall productivity so in fact, they don't cost the employers anything, they all pay for themselves in increased production. Sadly that reimbursement doesn't show up on a balance sheet -well it is there but it's very nearly impossible to quantify and prove, which is why shortsighted management tends to ignore it. After all - by the time the productivity and morale hits an all-time low due to horrible working conditions, the employees are unionizing and you end up giving it to them anyway to stay in business, I won't be CEO anymore anyway - I'll have long since retired with more money than God.

>Jobs like janitor/fry cook/night stocker are all great jobs for teens and college kids. They're terrible places to find yourself at 40.

Not it's not -but not everybody is smart enough to get better. Like it or not - we don't all have the talents to be anything more than menial laborers, even if we did - education cost money - if your parents didn't have it, chances are you aren't going to have it either.

> I wouldn't want to be part of society that encouraged people to spend 40 hours a week doing such menial labor when they're older.

Of course it's good to encourage and promote education and reduce the number of people in that position - but a significant number of people will never have the option - they just aren't that smart. How would you reach this panacea you dream off ? Some kind of final solution to the idiot problem ?!?!?!

>Lastly, severance benefits in the US typically amount to unemployment pay. I personally know people in the US who have been living off of unemployment for over 2 years. This is exactly the kind of thing you are arguing in favor of here, and the kind of "welfare mom" I feel is an unnecessary burden on the government.

That happens here too - but why on earth are you taking ONE SINGLE labor law and then dismissing ALL labor laws because of the problems with that one ? How is making sure a pregnant woman can take maternity leave and have a job to come back to not GOOD for keeping people employed? How is making sure that if your child gets sick you can take time off to care for him in the same category ? How is making sure that before you're fired over bullshit you get a chance to explain your actions with council and a fair hearing remotely similar ?
You're just throwing the baby out with the bathwater now.

Re:US Employment Rights (1)

Kokuyo (549451) | about 4 years ago | (#34185072)

But then, Europeans never seem to complain about "welfare moms,"

Oh, don't you worry, we have those too.

Re:US Employment Rights (1)

91degrees (207121) | about 4 years ago | (#34185086)

But then, Europeans never seem to complain about "welfare moms,"

That's likely because you're loooking for the wrong term. In Britain, the term is "benefits". Unemployment benefit, housing benefit etc. If you goodle for "benefits scroungers" you'll get plenty of British tabloids complaining about them. I'm sure the rest of Europer has its own term.

Re:US Employment Rights (2, Insightful)

node_chomsky (1830014) | about 4 years ago | (#34185132)

But then, Europeans never seem to complain about "welfare moms,"

Because they know 'welfare moms' are basically a myth. People like that do exist, but it is extremely rare (as in much smaller than a minority), even among people who are forced to live off of welfare because the circumstances of their life were not as ideal as that of others. I work with disadvantaged children, and I meet lot of people that tea-baggers and mean-spirited conservatives would instantly describe as 'welfare mothers' because they are poor, and may even live off welfare. But among them, I have never met one who seemed to think welfare was something they wanted out of life, and when you have 3 children with severe disabilities due to birth defects or post-natal factors (like an auto accident), you hardly have time to take care of your children, much less hold down gainful employment in one of the coldest and most professionally unforgiving nations in the world. Welfare isn't the source of any problems, it is a symptom of a much bigger problem. It's not that a person having disadvantages is owed anything by anyone who didn't contribute to those problems, it's that being big boys and girls means that we have to use a metric that involves more than our own comfort as standard. Basically, people who think the biggest waste of tax-money is social welfare need to grow up, because the logic behind their reasons for that is typically something found on a pre-school playground more so than in a college level class.

Re:US Employment Rights (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34184918)

Few health and safety regulations? Have you ever even heard of OSHA? They are so strict it's ridiculous, $10,000 per rung for the ladder you're standing at the very top of, oh yes, no regulations you say. Also there are mandated breaks and work hour restrictions enforced by the Department of Labor, however some jobs fall into categories that have exceptions to the common rules, most don't. And if you need mandated sick leave, may I suggest perhaps showing the fuck up to work once in a while? Not getting paid is an incentive to bring your sorry ass back.

Re:US Employment Rights (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34184936)

No holiday time, no sick leave, no maternity leave, no restrictions on hours worked, no mandated breaks, few health and safety regulations, can be fired without notice or reason, can legally discriminate, etc. It is like working in the third world. Between this and health care the US is low on my list of places I wish to work.

Dude, you want to pull that head out of your ass?

No holiday time, no sick leave

I'll give you the sick leave, but that's because almost everyone blows it on 3-day weekends, and never gets used for the intended purpose.

no maternity leave, no restrictions on hours worked, no mandated breaks, few health and safety regulations

FMLA + OSHA, I'll let you look up those two. There are restrictions on hours worked and mandated breaks for non-exempt employees.

can be fired without notice or reason

Yeah, this sucks, and it's called at-will employment, but not all states are like this.

can legally discriminate

Really? REALLY? Just because it happens and people can get away with it doesn't mean it's legal.

Re:US Employment Rights (1)

Schadrach (1042952) | about 4 years ago | (#34185334)

My employer had a simple solution to the misuse of sick leave -- sick leave is only intended for extended illness, so the first X days you are out "sick" come from vacation, after that from a relatively generous amount of paid sick leave (something like a month) then unpaid excused absence (as in they aren't paying you, but they aren't holding it against you) but only if you can provide signed documentation from a doctor certifying your condition (otherwise it's vacation then unexcused absence, which they are relatively unkind about). They then contact the doctor to verify.

Re:US Employment Rights (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34184942)

No holiday time, no sick leave, no maternity leave, no restrictions on hours worked, no mandated breaks, few health and safety regulations, can be fired without notice or reason, can legally discriminate, etc. It is like working in the third world. Between this and health care the US is low on my list of places I wish to work.

Huh? I live and work in the US. Never heard of anyone not getting holiday time or maternity leave. Sick time, I'm not as sure about.Agreeing to the hours worked and what you'll get paid for them is part of the hiring process. There are mandated breaks where unions are involved, outside of that, everywhere I've seen or heard of no one cares if you go out and take a smoke break or grab some water at the cooler or whatever once in a while. You're combining laying off with firing (which do have different legal implications, though I'm not sure exactly what they are, except that firing is far worse to have on your record). They cannot legally discriminate. Health and safety regulations are significantly higher than the third world, hence why so many companies want to outsource to India, China, etc. I mean, sure, maybe if you're working part time pushing baskets at the supermarket (or working through a contract in Michigan, like me), your benefits are going to suck. But "suck" is not the same as "You are forced to work 14 hours a day for almost no pay with no benefits at all ever!"

Health insurance is screwed up here. Health care is fine, in fact, excellent, as long as you don't go to Dr. Bob's Illegal Corner Surgery or something. Costs are high, yes, but that's partially because of idiots abusing the system, and partially to help pay for the medical research and advancements that help the health care to be good enough to keep everyone living a long time despite the obesity and stupidity epidemics among the general populous.

Re:US Employment Rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34184944)

nice troll

i work for a state govt in the US, and i have paid legal govt holidays(4th of july/etc), paid vacation (4 weeks/year, increasing to 5 weeks next year), and paid sick leave

previous to working for the state i had a part time job that had gave off certain govt holidays (paid) to the part time help, now that is quite rare.

every job i have ever had has had mandated breaks and strict health and safety regulations. especially at a couple of the factories i worked at.

i guess you are right about legal discrimination because some have also had hiring quotas which are essentially legally mandated reverse discrimination. though i don't think this was what you were getting at when you wrote that they can legally discriminate.

Re:US Employment Rights (2, Informative)

RobertLTux (260313) | about 4 years ago | (#34184946)

it depends on the exact job but most of what you are claiming is in fact false
No holiday time,: Most jobs will have some vacation time after a year or so
no sick leave, : Most jobs have a block of "personal days"
no maternity leave,: Its unpaid but required by the Family Medical Leave Act http://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/index.htm [dol.gov]
it unpaid but present
no restrictions on hours worked,: this gets a bit squishy but in an hourly job everything above 40 hours in a week gets paid time and a half and there is some stuff related to salaried jobs
no mandated breaks,: most states will have either custom or actual law on this point
few health and safety regulations, : ever hear of something called OSHA?? (this may hook into the break thing also)

Re:US Employment Rights (1)

zigziggityzoo (915650) | about 4 years ago | (#34184968)

No holiday time, no sick leave, no maternity leave, no restrictions on hours worked, no mandated breaks, few health and safety regulations, can be fired without notice or reason, can legally discriminate, etc. It is like working in the third world. Between this and health care the US is low on my list of places I wish to work.

Check (10 days off/year), Check (15 days off/year, 6 months extended sick leave which renews every 5 years), Check (Paternity leave, counts as sick time), True (but if I'm over 40 hours I get overtime - knew I was on call taking this job), True (no mandated breaks, but my work environment allows for them whenever), No safety issues to worry about here, True (I'm not a "right to work" state, I'm in an "at will" state), and Discriminate? ooohkay. Come to the states sometime. See what it's really like.

Re:US Employment Rights (1)

yacc143 (975862) | about 4 years ago | (#34185004)

Well, actually comparing US to EU employers (loosely spoken, as I always work as a contractor, so I've got basically no legal rights anywhere anyway), US employers tend to care about their "employees" way more than European ones. Guess that might not apply to somebody easily replaceable, and n=1 is a slight small probe for statistics.

Furthermore, I'd not call the US free of workplace rules, it's just that beyond the federal one, many states have their own regulations on top. Btw, it's quite similar to the EU, where there might be EU directives specifying standards, but the actual laws are enacted by the member countries. That's why in many areas most countries in the EU have their own laws that tend to be aweful similar to each other.
 

Re:US Employment Rights (1)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | about 4 years ago | (#34185056)

In the U.S., to actually have all that stuff within a framework of written rules and procedures that are actually adhered to by all in your workplace, you must have some sort of contract. So I expect a few people will poke their heads in here and say that they have all that stuff because it's all in the contract they negotiated before they took their job. Bully for them. For most middle-and-below-class workers, negotiating a contract is something they don't get to do. If they don't like the deal, they can get out.

No, the only really large groups of secretaries, clerks, IT wonks, odd-job specialists and other mid-to-low end salary earners who get all those things in the U.S. are the folks who belong to unions or work in shops where unions stuck up for them sometime in the past.

Cue the irrational slashdot union-haters. But I contend that for all their mis-steps (e.g. public unions at the *state* level who have gotten excessive retirement benefits, autoworker unions who pushed for too much in general, etc.), labor unions do more good than harm.

Good examples? The biggest federal govt worker unions have managed to get good pay and benefits for the folks at the bottom of the jobs ladder without too much disruption (mostly because they're ultimately neutered by being unable to strike) to the work processes involved.

Now cue the irrational slashdot government-worker-haters.

Re:US Employment Rights (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 4 years ago | (#34185138)

But but but but but REGULATIONS ARE KILLING INDUSTRY!

At least that's what my rep. says when I write to him about making sure that Corporations follow the rules....

Re:US Employment Rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34185258)

No holiday time, no sick leave, no maternity leave, no restrictions on hours worked, no mandated breaks, few health and safety regulations, can be fired without notice or reason, can legally discriminate, etc. It is like working in the third world. Between this and health care the US is low on my list of places I wish to work.

In the interest of accuracy, while there are no nationwide legal frameworks to provide MOST of the benefits that you mentioned, most employers in the US do in fact provide those benefits.

Holiday time, sick leave, and maternity leave are all employer-offered benefits rather than legally mandated benefits with the exception of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which basically says that if you have to take a long leave of absence due to medical or family circumstances that you can't be terminated for it.

Restrictions on hours worked as well as mandated breaks can vary from state to state, and may be influenced by union contracts. However, the US Department of Labor enforces regulations that ensure that for non-salaried managers that work over 40 hours in a work week that employees are paid additional hours at 1.5x their hourly rate. So while it's not a hard cap, there is at least some compensation.

Federal health and safety regulations are enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA),

In some states you can be fired without notice or reason, but in others you cannot. It largely depends on whether the state is an "at-will employment state." But again that can be limited by employment or union contracts as well. You cannot legally discriminate, though if you do work in an at-will state then it is possible for you to be fired for "discriminatory" purposes, but typically only after the employer finds some other minor violation that they can use for justification. That being said, if there is a pattern of discrimination that can be demonstrated you can win significant judgements against the corporation.

But you're right, the legal system in the US is not set up to protect the workers, it is heavily slanted towards businesses (as most laws in the US are). Lets face it, we have the best government that money can buy, and it has already been bought and sold. Still, it's not as bleak as you make it out to be.

    In 23+ years of working in the US I have only had one employer who didn't offer those benefits, and he went out of business about a year after I quit because he couldn't keep decent people working there. Granted, the quality of those benefits varies widely from employer to employer, but most of them do offer them.

Re:US Employment Rights (1)

BZ (40346) | about 4 years ago | (#34185420)

> No holiday time, no sick leave, no maternity leave, no restrictions on hours worked, no
> mandated breaks, few health and safety regulations, can be fired without notice or
> reason, can legally discriminate, etc.

While there are no _federal_ laws covering some of those items, there are plenty of _state_ laws (e.g. a number of states have laws requiring paid maternity leave; several have required paid paternity leave as well). Further, there are federal laws requiring certain treatment of maternity leave (e.g. treating it at least as well as you treat any medical short-term disability). There are certainly federal laws against discriminating (though perhaps your definition of "discriminate" is different from the one in those laws?). Health and safety regulations clearly vary by field; I'd like to see your data on "few".

In quite a number of jobs there are legal requirements that anything past 40 hours a week be paid at overtime rates; while this may not be "restrictions on hours worked", it's not quite the same thing as "slavery" either.

At-will employment, I'll grant, for most employees. Bad for job security; possibly better for finding jobs in the first place. Hard to say.

It Depends on the Forum (3, Insightful)

jarrettwold2002 (601633) | about 4 years ago | (#34184798)

Independent of the legal view, for me this entirely depends on the forum it's conducted in. If you have a public facing social networking account, and you go "My boss John Doe is an incompetent asshole", that for me is very much the same as driving around with that as a bumper sticker on your car.

On the other hand if this is conducted on a private facing social networking account, and you say that outside of it being libelous or slander and not in violation of any criminal laws. That cannot and should not be touched. It doesn't matter if a co-worker who was on your facebook shares it with your boss, that was demarcated as private.

As we expand communication, it's absurd for people to say "I didn't know that x person would look at y comment and z would happen". This is an old problem that's being brought to a new medium, and people gasping in false shock.

Re:It Depends on the Forum (5, Insightful)

buckadude (926560) | about 4 years ago | (#34185224)

I believe one of the aspects the NLRB is protecting here is the right to complain and collaborate via email or other electronic means. collaboration is key here. You would not be protected in speech based on saying something like "My boss John Doe is an incompetent asshole" because there is no collaboration there... its just a statement. I could be wrong here, but as I understand it, you would need to add in something to the effect of " my boss john doe is an incompetent asshole and would anyone like to start a group or get together and talk about it?" The reason goes back to some basic things like the right to form unions with out being fired, threatened or physically stopped (this used to be very common (Pinkertons)). This is not a groundbreaking decision here... any labor lawyer could tell you that... the real headline here is that this is how it should be and soon the Congress will most assuredly do everything they can (short of blowing up the NLRB) to stomp this out of existence.

Physical threats have become legal threats (1)

sethstorm (512897) | about 4 years ago | (#34185362)

The reason goes back to some basic things like the right to form unions with out being fired, threatened or physically stopped (this used to be very common (Pinkertons)).

These days, the physical threats are replaced with lawyer hit teams like The Burke Group, Jackson Lewis, and the like.

Re:It Depends on the Forum (1)

wjousts (1529427) | about 4 years ago | (#34185384)

Somebody mod the parent as insightful.

This is how I understand it from discussions on the news this morning. I think the employee in question was protected because after bitching about her work, several co-workers chimed in with their opinions. That made it a collaborative discussion about working conditions and protected.

Re:It Depends on the Forum (3, Informative)

buckadude (926560) | about 4 years ago | (#34185418)

that is exactly correct. it is called a concerted protected activity!

ATTENTION GERMANS: SURRENDER DAY IS UPON YOU !! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34184958)

On this day in 1917 it was proclaimed that Germany and the Kaiser pussied out and gave up !!

I mean come on !! It was FRANCE for Christ's sake !! You got your aases kicked by FRANCE !!

Re:ATTENTION GERMANS: SURRENDER DAY IS UPON YOU !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34185220)

1918. The Commmies revolted in 1917. Download "REDS".

This is a good thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34185118)

I worked at Verizon Wireless for a few years before leaving due to a better offer from a competing telecom. I personally knew people who had been written up and threatened with termination by their management for statements as simple as 'Work sucked today so glad to be home.'

At-Will (0, Offtopic)

airos4 (82561) | about 4 years ago | (#34185240)

I'm at an organization where a similar situation is proceeding through the HR hell.
The unfortunate part is that as an at-will employee, which we all basically are at my job, they have to do something highly illegal to actually get sued for firing you. You can show up and pick your nose and get fired for it, and it's just "at will."...

Now, if they actually said "Because of this" you might have a better case, because then they're stepping on first amendment stuff. But if they said "Because we want to" you'd be SOL. People don't get that your first amendment rights protect you from jail time, not protect you from any consequence at all.

Re:At-Will (1)

airos4 (82561) | about 4 years ago | (#34185256)

To add on, we are NOT easily replaceable drones... this is a healthcare environment, at a high enough level to make it difficult to replace us.

Re:At-Will (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34185388)

Not necessarily true. Do you have an employee handbook? That's enforceable as a contract. If they fire you in violation of their own policies, they're violating that contract.

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