School employees with contract status or “just cause” rights have greater protections against discipline for online postings than those under probationary status. Those protected employees can only be disciplined if the employer can show a legitimate reason related to standards of conduct or competence.
Within the context of off-duty conduct (e.g., online postings) many courts have required a showing that such conduct had an adverse effect on the employee’s ability to perform her/his job. Probationary employees often don’t have “just cause” protection, and mistakenly believe the First Amendment protects their right to post anything online.
Unfortunately, school and college employee speech is not entitled to First Amendment protection under the following conditions:
As with any possible questions about your rights in the workplace, please contact your union/association representative or local office.
Social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and LinkedIn are great boons for connecting with people you know from next door or around the globe. They can also serve as tools for easily sharing information and organizing around important and/or fun issues.
Facebook, in particular, is developing into an engaging and vast online network where people tend to use their real names and share details about their lives, ideas, and tastes.
As public employees it’s important to take a little more care than the average person.
Some tips to keep in mind:
Consider that students, fellow employees, supervisors, parents, and community members may find your online content. Show moderation!
Create Your Own Education Community
School districts have started using social networking tools (also called Web 2.0) to enhance public education, create dialogue and encourage more participation in district-wide issues.
Some district use Facebook and Twitter accounts to:
In today’s “information age,” social networking tools provide opportunities for you to catch up on important decisions made by your district and local Association.
Keep up with current events by “following” your local legislators and news sources on Twitter.
Share tips with your colleages on LinkedIn. Find FEA on Twitter. Enter FloridaEA.
Become a fan of FEA on Facebook! Enter “Make Our Schools A Priority” in the search engine.