Watch out! Bosses are saving money by firing employees over Facebook posts


Click at your peril. In the past few weeks, more companies have been snooping through the online universe in an effort to bring their workers in line. Virgin Atlantic airline fired 13 employees for what they said on Facebook. The charge: The employees "brought the company into disrepute." The evidence: a discussion that said its airplanes (their workplace) harbored cockroaches and that its customers were "chavs," the British slang equivalent of "white trash."

As the economy sours, companies have an incentive to expunge workers from their payrolls, and evidence of insubordination makes for some solid ammunition for a quick firing. Which is probably why more axe men are poring through the social networking sites. British Airways workers at London's Gatwick airport are also under investigation for spouting off on Facebook. The transgressions there happened in a closed group where posts complained about "smelly" passengers, American accents, and people who briefly hold boarding passes with their teeth while going through departure checkpoints.

Naturally, companies don't want to look bad. And it's also lousy judgment for opinionated employees to bite the hand that feeds them by complaining about their bosses in a place where they can easily be caught and identified. Let Miss Manners address morality, though. I'm more skeptical about whether employers have the right to dump you merely for having a negative opinion of where you work. I'm also wary of any boss who chases down the details of a worker's personal life.