What rights does a former employee have if their manager made comments about them on a social networking site?

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What rights does a former employee have if their manager made comments about them on a social networking site?

An employee felt harassed by members of management and had made several in-house and corporate complaints about the harassment. During the time of one harassing incident, comments were made on the manager’s social networking site detailing, and basically making light of, the harassment. Once the employee was separated from the company and contacted corporate it was discovered that many in house HR complaints were never escalated to corporate. On the day of the separation several comments were made about the separation on the managers page. Can this information be used to assist the employee?

Asked on September 29, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, Kentucky

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

IF the comments--

1) Were discriminatory against a protected category (e.g. race, religion, age over 40, sex, disability) or

2) Were defamatory, in the sense of being untrue statements of fact that harmed the employee's reputation or made others not want to work/do business with him (note: opinions are NOT defamation, so it's "ok" for a manager to say, "Joe was a jerk" or "Joe's whinning about unimportant issues."

If the above is the case, the employee may have a legal claim against the company or the manager. Or (3) if the employee had a firm disciplinary or grievance policy, as reflected in an individual contract, a  union agreement, or an employee handbook that did not have  ANY of the usual caveats or limitions (e.g. did not say "policies may be changed at will," or "this does not create a contract"), then the employee may be able force the company to honor the terms of its own agreements.

In the absence of the above, there is probably very little recourse for the employee, however,


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