Earlier this week, I wrote about the issue of threats made via Facebook constitute constitutionally protected speech. Today’s post also is about threats made via Facebook but in the context of the workplace. The case, decided by the Court of Appeals of Ohio, is timed perfectly for my road trip tomorrow to Ohio.
In Ames v. Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Correction, an employee, a Senior Parole Officer, was sent for an independent medical exam after she posted a Facebook comment that her employer believed to be a threat. The comment was in reference to shooting parolees. The employee claimed that the comment was a joke. The psychologist who conducted the exam cleared her to return to work, finding no evidence of depression, anxiety, or mood disturbance.
A few months later, the employer received an “anonymous” complaint that the employee was using her state-issued computer for non-work purposes. It turned out that the complaint actually was made by the new partner of the employee’s ex-girlfriend. The new partner, of course, was a co-worker. There was an investigation and the employee was issued a written reprimand.