Portland, Ore.-- A Facebook rant cost an Oregon child welfare worker her job. Recently, a court agreed she could be fired for her online posts.
Jennifer Shepherd was terminated from her job as a child protective services worker in October of 2012. According to documents in a federal lawsuit, Shepherd made several disparaging remarks about clients on her Facebook page including: So today I noticed a Self-Sufficiency client getting into a newer BMW. What am I doing wrong here?
Almost every client home I go into has a gigantic flat screen TV, another rant read.
Copies of the online posts were forwarded to Shepherd's bosses at the Oregon Department of Human Resources. State DHS officials were concerned because the child welfare worker appeared in court six to eight times per month. They feared defense attorneys would raise the Facebook posts in order to impeach Shepherd and her credibility as a DHS employee.
Shepherd filed suit claiming that her firing constituted a violation of her constitutional right to free speech.
Last week, the case was dismissed.
Even if Plaintiff had widely distributed her comments to the public and even if they struck at the core of First Amendment protection, the balance would still tip in DHS's favor given the record of potential disruption, wrote U.S. District Judge Marco Hernandez.