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Tweeting The Truth About A Terminated Employee

Photo Credit: Bethany Clarke/Getty Images

Photo Credit: Bethany Clarke/Getty Images

feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Talk about getting a bad reference from a former employer.

When Dallas Police Chief David Brown fires someone, the world knows about it. He tweets the name and offense of every person he fires, and lets the world know what they did to lose their job.

In one recent tweet, he names a person he let go by saying: I have terminated him for driving under the influence and not reporting his arrest to his supervisor. Chief Brown does also tweet that under civil service rules, the sacked employee has a right to appeal.

Is this kind of public shaming legal? Don’t you have a right to privacy?

There are instances where facts that, even if true, are legally protected from disclosure. But those involve private matters like whether you wear women’s underwear in your home for example. The firing of a government employee probably doesn’t
count as a private matter. A tweet would be defamatory if it’s untrue and harms a person’s reputation.

Chief Brown only states true facts, that he fired someone and why. So while what he does is legal, it’s mean. And the world knows it.