Can I take my boss to court for firing me after illegally accessing my Facebook page?

UPDATED: Feb 22, 2012

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Can I take my boss to court for firing me after illegally accessing my Facebook page?

My Facebook cannot be accessed if the person searching or clicking my name is not a direct friend. This morning, when I clicked the “HOME” button to see my News feed, Facebook asked me to log in. I wondered why it would ask me that if I never logged out. I never shut down my PC and I’m always logged into Facebook. it turns out this happens when an account is phished.

Asked on February 22, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, New York


Nicholas Dubrowsky / The Law Offices of Nicholsa S. Dubrowsky, Esq.

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor


You've stumbled into the marshy and ambiguous brave new social media world.


First, all things considered, I agree on the whole with my colleague above-particularly on at-will employment. Yet, I will assume for the sake of argument that you have some employment contract or agreement.


 That being said, litigation about the line between your privacy on Facebook account and an employer’s interest in monitoring your conduct as it relates to the company, firm, office etc. is not clear.  On the one hand your privacy settings define your expectation of privacy. On the other hand, the employer has an expectation and desire that you do not use the employer’s time for private matters, through employer property and an employer’s server. Then again, your intangible and ubiquitous Facebook page is not employer property.


All in all, if your boss came into your office, noticed Facebook open and hacked into your account looking through your private information/statements/messages that might be a case worthy of suit. Especially if your company doesn’t have a policy relating to social media, and in this instance he/she acted more as an individual than your employer.


Lastly, there is the question of what did your employer find that warranted termination—if you were told and have an employment contract. For instance, if you were posting defamatory statements, harassing a coworker (something obviously wrong) then forget about it.


The specifics are what decide cases most of the time. And, as with your dilemma, an attorney would need to know all of them.





SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You  cannot sue your boss for firing you, even if he did so after accessing your Facebook book without authority, unless you have some employment contract or agreement protecting your employment or limiting the grounds for termination. That is because without such a contract, you may be fired at any time, for any reason whatsoever; without a contract, you are an employee at will, and employees at will have very little in the way of protectible rights in their jobs.

Furthermore, if you were on Facebook on your company computer, your employer likely *could* legally access your facebook page: employers generally have the right to monitor employees' web usage, and to see the pages the employees are viewing, when the employer is on a company computer or network--the company's software and hardware belongs to it, not you, even if it is "your" work computer (i.e. the one assigned to you). The company has a right to view all content, documents, web surfing, emails, etc. that are on or sent through their computer equipment (It is a good practice to NOT access personal email or Facebook pages from a work machine, and to not have personal pictures, documents, information, or files on company computers.)

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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