Since Facebook first burst onto our screens just a few years back, it’s set social networking – and the world – on fire. However, it’s since adopted a new meaning, after a sheriff from Hampton, Virginia, decided to fire six of his employees for liking a Facebook page. Bit extreme, right? But throw in the fact that they had clicked the Like button on the Facebook page of the sheriff’s political opponent, it does add a bit of virtual salt to the wounds.
According to the New York Times, Judge Raymond Jackson found that the employees’ actions “hindered the harmony and efficiency of the office” – effectively ruling that everyone’s favourite blue thumbs-up logo doesn’t constitutionally protect free speech.
This surely would have pleased Sheriff B.J. Roberts, and given weight to his decision to fire the unfortunate six. But here’s the twist: liking something is protected under freedom of speech.
It turns out that public workers in Virginia are free to voice their political opinions, even if it means throwing your support behind the person campaigning to replace your manager (which after this fiasco will make the six workers feel more strongly about Roberts’ opponent than ever).
So…how do you work your legal magic to find yourself a loophole? Jackson puts it as so:
“Simply liking a Facebook page is insufficient,” the judge wrote. “It is not the kind of substantive statement that has previously warranted constitutional protection … For the Court to assume that the Plaintiffs made some specific statement without evidence of such statements is improper.”
Naturally, many expect the workers to appeal against this ruling. As well as rethink their ‘Political Views’ on their Facebook profiles.
Source: CNETLeave a comment on this article