So a woman logs into her Facebook account one night, after work, through her personal computer and posts some vulgar words about her employer. Then she gets fired after her employer finds out. Today marks the beginning of what’s to be a very lengthy, drawn-out court battle that could set a major precedent for what employees can and can’t say about their employers…even when they’re not on the clock.

There are two polarizing readings of this change in personnel. One: If anyone dislikes their job so much that they then spend their time off badmouthing said employment, why not actively seek something more fulfilling? Or two: Shouldn’t the company, instead of acting on the knee-jerk impulse to fire an employee with poor discretion, address an obvious morale problem? But one commenter on Mashable’s blog item brings up a third reading:

This is nothing but employers finding ways to censor private speech outside of the workplace. Under no circumstance should this employer be allowed to get away with this. A private post on your Facebook page, regardless of your settings, is free speech and should be protected. If she were using company equipment or doing this on the clock, that would be another thing because she could just be fired for inappropriate computer use.

Although social media’s role in employment status isn’t unprecedented. Twitter rants like this and these have already set the stage for social media faux pas. Moral of the story: Your privacy’s probably safer at an empty dive bar than it is on Facebook.

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