Findlay Ohio server Kirsten Kelly had a really bad Friday night recently. Several customers left her lousy tips and she was so upset she took to Facebook to do a little venting, which included some ill-advised foul language.
Kelly didn't call out the bad tippers by name but she did call out her employer, Texas Roadhouse, which received a complaint from one of Kelly's customers, a "Facebook Friend," who printed out Kelly's chat page.
Kelly returned to work only to find out she was out of a job.
"They told me that I knew what I was doing when I posted that and they had to let me go because a customer came in and brought in the screen chats of it and they were really upset," she told WTOL-TV.
Texas Roadhouse defended her termination, a spokesperson saying: "Kelly was fired for violating out policy on respect for others. Texas Roadhouse does not tolerate offensive language towards guests, whether it occurs online, offline, or even in the parking lot."
A perfect example of why you should never complain about your employer on social media right? Not so fast.
Consider the case of a Connecticut medical technician who in 2011 won a landmark victory against her employer who canned her for complaining about her job on Facebook. The National Labor Relations Board ruling that American Medical Response violated labor law that protects workers who complain about wages, hours, and or working conditions with coworkers.
Scott Schneider asked FOX19 legal analyst Mike Allen what that victory means for people like Kelly who get into trouble after posting something negative about work on social media.
"Basically what the law says now and the interpretations from the National Labor Relations Board are you're free to talk about your work and your work conditions as long as it's about working conditions and as long as it is an attempt to discuss it with other people," says Allen.
Allen also explained that were Kelly to hire an attorney who could show that she was complaining about working conditions as part of a conversation with others, she could very likely get her job back.
Here's the bottom line: Labor law is evolving and it favors an employee's right to complain about work with friends and coworkers whether at the water cooler or online.