HR pros have enough to do without worrying about what employees are putting on their MySpace pages. But when social networking Web sites intersect with the work world, it’s a different story.
A federal court has thrown out a teacher’s lawsuit against his former employer that claimed the school district retaliated against him for exercising his First Amendment rights on his MySpace page.
The teacher created a MySpace page that he used to communicate with students about homework. He claimed casual conversations he had with students on the Web site allowed him to better relate to students.
Web page had more than homework tips
But there was a problem: School officials asked him to shut down the site after allegedly finding pictures of naked men on it and concluding that the teacher had used the site to conduct inappropriate conversations with students.
Instead of closing the account, the teacher created a new page.
The district suspended the teacher and refused to renew his contract for the following year.
That’s when he sued, noting that he’d used his Web page to express his opposition to the Iraq War.
The court threw out the lawsuit saying there was no causal relationship between his post about the war and the district’s decision not to renew his contract.
The court also noted that:
- it wasn’t unreasonable for the school district to find the teacher’s conduct on the MySpace page to be disruptive to school activities, and
- the teacher couldn’t show that the district had violated his freedom of association right because “there is no evidence in the present case that MySpace, as an organization, purports to speak out on matters of public concern.”
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Spanierman v. Hughes, U.S. Dist. Crt. CT, No. 3:06CV01196, 9/16/08.