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Should people lose their jobs for expressing their opinions? Social media expert weighs in

"The First Amendment does not protect employees from saying stupid stuff on the internet. The first amendment says congress would pass no law that abridges individual free speech. That's it."

Faith Linthicium, the nurse who was fired from Kaiser Roseville for controversial comments she made on social media about Stephon Clark, has now raised more than $25,000 on her GoFundMe page.

After writing online that Clark “deserved it for being stupid,” she defended her actions, saying she was “exercising my First Amendment rights to free speech.”

But this is not the first time a person has been fired for expressing their personal opinions publicly.

In fact, the woman who went viral after she was caught flipping off President Trump’s motorcade was also fired from her job, and is now suing her company for unlawful termination.

So what are the rights for employees when it comes to expressing opinions?

According to Thomas Dodson, a social media expert who works with businesses on their social media policies, there are none.

“I’m going to blow your mind,” Dodson told ABC10’s Liz Kreutz. “The First Amendment does not protect employees from saying stupid stuff on the internet. The first amendment says congress would pass no law that abridges individual free speech. That’s it.”

Essentially, he added, “It does not mean you are protected from saying stupid stuff and getting fired for it. Period.”

Although “stupid stuff” is subjective (many people have shown support for the comments Linthicium made), Dodson says it’s up to the employer to make that determination and that there have been very few instances that have sided with the employee.

“If you look at the comments made they can definitely be taken to be offensive,” he said, referring to Linthicium’s remark. “If that is the perception by a lot of people, what is the employer supposed to do at that point? They're going to shield you?”

“No,” he explained. “They're going to cut ties.”

His advice?

Don’t say or do anything you wouldn't say out loud in your office break-room.

Follow the conversation with Liz Kreutz on Facebook.

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