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Are Workers Free to Trash Their Employers Online?

Are Workers Free to Trash Their Employers Online?
Photograph by Allen Donikowski

The National Labor Relations Board has declared that employees have the right to discuss their working conditions online, even if they use harsh language or insults. In other words, disgruntled workers among us are legally protected by federal regulators to bellyache about their companies and oppressive bosses on Facebook, just as if by a water cooler, without fearing a pink slip—but only if the comments fit specific legal requirements as outlined in the National Labor Relations Act.

To untangle the social media legalese—and to learn what employees are actually free to air online—Bloomberg Businessweek turned to Philip Gordon, chair of the privacy and data-protection group at the law firm Littler Mendelson.