NPR discusses the issue of employees’ privacy rights. (For more on the issue of workplace privacy, read a Wall Street Journal article from May 2009 detailing the disconnect between bosses and workers over social-networking privacy.):
Did you know you could be fired for not removing a political sticker from your car — or even having a beer after work? Lewis Maltby says it’s more than possible — it’s happened. His new book, Can They Do That? explores rights in the workplace.
As he tells NPR’s Ari Shapiro, “Freedom of speech is protected by the First Amendment — but only where the government is concerned.
“What most Americans generally don’t know is that the Constitution doesn’t apply to private corporations at all.”
In terms of monitoring its employees, the list of things a corporation can’t do is a short one — it’s basically confined to eavesdropping on a personal oral conversation, Maltby said. “Anything else is open season.”
And outside the workplace, personal blogs or social media pages on services like Twitter or Facebook offer no refuge.
Asked if workers can be fired for things they write on those sites, Maltby said, “Absolutely. Happens every day.” […]
Companies need the freedom to run their businesses the way they want — and fire people who are seen as doing a bad job. But, Maltby says, those decisions should be based on legitimate business rationale.