Legal Issues

Everything is Bigger in Texas – Even Employee Stupidity on Facebook

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By Eric B . Meyer

A Texas court held earlier this month that an employer lawfully fired a paramedic who posted on the Facebook page of a co-worker that she wanted to slap a patient.

But, the plaintiff’s rant isn’t the worst of it.

When warned by a co-worker that the plaintiff’s Facebook post was accessible by the general public, the plaintiff responded — publicly on Facebook:

Yeah, whatever. YOU weren’t there. Whenever I have to have a firefighter ride in with me because of a patient’s attitude, and I fear for MY safety, I truly believe a patient needs an attitude adjustment. Think about that the next time YOU correct someone!”

Public Facebook posts aren’t “private”

As you can imagine, once the company got wind of this, it fired the plaintiff for being “unprofessional and insubordinate.” Subsequently, the plaintiff sued for invasion of privacy.

Invasion of privacy? Yes, invasion of privacy for accessing Facebook posts. That were public. That the plaintiff was told were public. That the plaintiff acknowledged were public. Plaintiff loses. (You can read the decision here.)

Did I mention that the Texas court that decided the case was an appellate court? The plaintiff appealed her initial defeat — one that I previously blogged about here.

And y’all wonder why our legal system sometimes gets a bad rap. Oy!

This was originally published on Eric B. Meyer’s blog, The Employer Handbook.

Eric B. Meyer is a partner in the Labor and Employment Group of the Philadelphia-based law firm of Dilworth Paxson LLP . He dedicates his practice to litigating and assisting employers on labor and employment issues affecting the workplace, including collective bargaining, discrimination, employee handbook policies, enforcement of restrictive covenants, and trade secret protection. Eric also serves as a volunteer mediator for the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Contact him at emeyer@dilworthlaw.com .