Some Workers May Be Protected From Firing Despite Negative Facebook Comments

ABA Journal:  Some workers who beef about the workplace on Facebook and Twitter may be protected from firing or discipline because they are engaging in “protected concerted activity,” according to a report by the National Labor Relations Board.

The report by acting general counsel Lafe Solomon discusses the outcome of investigations into 14 cases involving social media by the agency’s Division of Advice, according to a press release, Above the Law, and Business Ethics. In four cases in the report (PDF), the NLRB found the workers were protected under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act because they were discussing terms and conditions of employment with fellow employees.

In one case the NLRB sided with a luxury car salesman fired for posting photos of a sales event in which hot dogs were served, cheap food he deemed to be conveying the wrong message to potential clients. His introduction to the photos remarked that he was happy to see that the employer had gone all out for the party. The NLRB said the salesman was vocalizing the concerns of his co-workers, whose salaries were based entirely on commissions.

New York Lawyer Sues Ex-Girlfriends For Posts On Liarscheatesrus.com

ABA Journal:  A Manhattan lawyer says he has lost clients because of online posts claiming he is a cheating “scum” who dumped his girlfriends.

Matthew Couloute Jr. is fighting back with a federal lawsuit filed against two ex-girlfriends, including former roller derby queen Stacey Blitsch, the New York Post reports. Couloute, who is now a married man, claims the posts at liarscheatersrus.com have interfered with prospective business relations.

Does Updating A Blog Post Restart The Statute Of Limitations?

The Volokh Conspiracy:  An interesting decision, stemming from the Wolk v. Olson litigation. Here’s the legal background: A publisher is generally not be liable once the statute of limitations (generally a year or longer) has run since the original publication. At that point, under the “single publication rule” — which is generally accepted in most states, and has generally been applied to the Internet in the cases that have considered the issue — no further lawsuits can be brought based on the original post, even if the publisher eventually learns that the post is false. The mere fact that a blog post is being copied to a reader’s computer each time it’s accessed doesn’t constitute a new publication that restarts the statute of limitations.

But do changes to the post constitute a republication, and restart the statute? Sufficiently substantive changes might, but for modest changes — such as most changes in a URL — the answer is likely no. A few cases have so held, see Canatella v. Van De Kamp (9th Cir. 2007) and In re Davis (W.D. Ky. 2006); the judge in this case suggested that she took a similar view, though she ultimately decided the case on other grounds:

Amazon Fights States Over Sales Tax

Tax Prof Blog: Amazon.com Inc., the world’s largest online retailer, hasn’t charged sales tax in most states since its founding in 1994. And it has taken some extreme measures to keep it that way.

Among them: Staff traveling around the U.S. have been required to first consult a company map that shades each state red, yellow or green, said three people who have worked for the retailer. These people said they needed permission from managers or company lawyers before entering “red” states because a worker’s actions might trigger laws that force Amazon to collect taxes in those states.

Such steps to avoid local levies allow Amazon to undercut in-state retailers by the amount they must add in sales tax, which can exceed 8%.

A close examination of Amazon’s corporate practices, based on interviews with more than a dozen former employees and people who have done business with the Seattle company, as well as a review of corporate documents, indicates that the company believes its sales-tax policy is critical to its performance.

Congress Wants To Spy On Your Computer

NY Post:  If Congress had to name laws honestly, it would be called the “Forcing Your Internet Provider to Spy On You Just In Case You’re a Criminal Act of 2011” — a costly, invasive mandate that even the co-author of the Patriot Act, Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), says “runs roughshod over the rights of people who use the Internet.”

But because it’s disguised as the “Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act,” the House Judiciary Committee approved it last week by a wide margin — even though it’s got little to do with child porn and won’t do much to protect kids.

The centerpiece of this ill-conceived law is a sweeping requirement that commercial Internet providers retain a one-year log of all the temporary Internet Protocol addresses they assign to their users, along with customer-identification information. The Justice Department says this will help track down child-porn peddlers by linking online activity and real-world identities.  But the government would be able to access that sensitive data for all kinds of investigations, most of which would have nothing to do with child porn.
 

Twittersquatter Suit Dropped

ABA Journal:   A company that sued a so-called Twittersquatter for using its name to post sarcastic tweets has dropped its legal effort.

Coventry First dropped the suit late Tuesday, according to Public Citizen’s Consumer Law & Policy Blog. Public Citizen had defended the anonymous person who used the @coventryfirst handle. (The author later changed the handle to @coventryfirstin and added disclaimers.)

Coventry First buys life insurance policies and resells them to investors who cover the premiums until the insured dies. The Twitter author had applauded early deaths (which lead to greater investor profits) in veiled criticism of the industry. Coventry First’s suit against the writer had alleged trademark infringement and violations of cybersquatting laws.

Lawyer Responds To Kids’ Video Bullying His Daughter

ABA Journal:  A Houston lawyer has taken a legal approach to a video posted on Facebook by three middle school students he accuses of defaming his daughter.

First, lawyer Jason Medley notified school officials about the video and sent cease and desist letters to the three girls and their parents, the Houston Chronicle reports. The letter threatened suit if the youths didn’t stop all communication with his daughter and if their families didn’t donate at least $5,000 each to the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use.

‘Twittersquatter’ Sued for Sarcastic Tweets

ABA Journal: A company that buys life insurance policies and resells them to investors has sued a so-called Twittersquatter that used its name in sarcastic posts cheering mass disasters.

Coventry First has filed a John Doe lawsuit against the person writing under the Twitter handle @conventryfirst, report PaidContent.org and Reuters. The complaint, filed in Philadelphia federal court, claims infringement of Coventry First’s trademark and violations of cybersquatting laws.

Man Prosecuted for Reading Wife’s E-Mail Without Her Authorization

Freep.com:  “A Rochester Hills man faces up to 5 years in prison — for reading his wife’s e-mail.  Oakland County prosecutors, relying on a Michigan statute typically used to prosecute crimes such as identity theft or stealing trade secrets, have charged Leon Walker, 33, with a felony after he logged onto a laptop in the home he shared with his wife, Clara Walker.  Using her password, he accessed her Gmail account and learned she was having an affair.”

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