HR Strange But True

Facebook ‘Liking’ Is Not Protected Activity, Says District Court

By: Kyle Emshwiller

The U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Virginia has found that “liking” something on Facebook is insufficient to be protected under the First Amendment.

The six plaintiffs in the case were former employees at a Virginia sheriff’s department. When election time rolled around, the plaintiffs favored their boss’s opponent and showed their support by liking the opponent’s Facebook page.

Much to the dismay of the employees, their boss won the election and decided to lay off staff, including the six plaintiffs. The employees took their boss to court claiming the sheriff knew they supported his political contender and fired them in retaliation.

The sheriff, on the other hand, says he fired them for poor performance and a need for staffing reductions.

The judge ruled in favor of the sheriff, stating that the activity of liking a page on Facebook is not constitutionally protected. Previous court cases involving protected speech on the social media site have dealt with written posts, not a mere “liking.”

The plaintiffs’ lawyer announced they are planning on appealing the ruling. Stay tuned!

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  • Anonymous

    In an NLRB case, though, an administrative law judge found that an employee’s “Like” on a co-worker’s Facebook posting about the employer’s tax withholding practices constituted participation in a discussion that was sufficiently meaningful as to rise to the level of concerted activity under the NLRA. In the context of Facebook communications, it constituted an assent to the comments being made and a meaningful contribution to the discussion.