AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) - The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently defended an employee's right to use Facebook to voice frustrations about their job.
Last month, labor regulators backed the use of the social network, as a way for workers to speak about "concerted activities." But a recent federal appeals court ruling, which found key NLRB appointments to be null, could challenge the decision of close to 300 cases.
However, the ruling may not apply to Massachusetts, an "at will" state; where your protections may be limited.
"If you're sitting at a bar or at a restaurant and you know your employer is two tables down from you, would you say something negative about them? No, you wouldn't. And Facebook is kind of one big bar," said Alexandra Raikhlina of Amherst.
The growing use of social media is making Raikhlina's scenario more common, as users take to the network to vent their frustrations. But Amherst Labor Lawyer Peter Vickery told 22News it could cost you your job.
"People need to remember that Massachusetts is an at will state which means your employer can fire for any reason or no reason unless your contract says otherwise," said Vickery.
Vickery says you can't get fired for protected rights like religion, sex, race and disability. But that aside, protected speech under first amendment law is limited.
"If you are online and especially if it's on the company e-mail or on the Facebook site where you know that can and will be used in evidence against you, think about that," said Vickery inside his North Pleasant Street office.
Which may mean keeping your conversations private and in person.
"There's a lot more complexity to it than just being able to write whatever you want on Facebook. There's more people seeing it, than just the people you think that are seeing it," said Northampton resident Monique Desir.
Vickery says if you are fired for discriminatory reasons, the statute of limitations will give you 300 days to report your claim.