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How much authority does a non-profit organization have over

Resolved Question:

How much authority does a non-profit organization have over a former employee's social media postings that are posted after employment?

Example: Non-profit organization is a private paid-on-call/volunteer ambulance provider. A current member/employee posts a picture of the inside of the ambulance on Facebook, and makes an innocent post about spending the next 24 hours there. A former member (former member 1) makes a comment on the picture status stating that he noticed that a piece of equipment the services uses that is known to have issues with being unsanitary was not there. Another former member (former member 2) makes a sarcastic comment that "MRSA never hurt anyone. LOL" Former member 1 comments again about it being gross if that had to be used on someone. The name of the organization was never used or refereed to in the original post, or in the comments.

Former member 1, and Former member 2, both receive a cease and desist demand form the organizations attorneys office. It states "(unnamed organization) demands that you cease and desist from further posting on any social media sites any comments referencing, referring, or directly mentioning (unnamed organization). (unnamed organization) is designed to help keep (local community) safe and your disparaging remarks are inhibiting them as they strive to achieve this goal. Others involved with comments such as yours have also been contacted and requested to end further communication on related topics"

some History:

Former member 2, for sure, has experienced being singled out before for making posts when he was still employed by the service. The comments were positive comments about being excited to be back on duty, and a complaint was supposedly made. However upon examination of the actual post, they were unable to show it violated the social media policy. At the same time, many other employees post on facebook about the organization or being on duty regularly and without reprimand. Former member 2 also experienced being singled out during his duties, and after discussing it with management nothing was done. Former member 2 felt the work environment had become hostile. When former member 2 requested resignation from the organization, the Board of Directors issued a termination instead.

Does a cease and desist order hold any weight in this case, and should former member 2 take any action for being harassed by the organization even after employment is over.
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Joseph replied 8 months ago.
Hello and welcome to JustAnswer,

My name isXXXXX am a licensed attorney, and my goal is to provide you with excellent service today.

No, a case and desist letter doesn't hold any legal weight. And, here, they do not have any cause of action against you or other posters in making comments, jokes, etc. and cannot restrain you from doing so.

To do that would constitute a restriction on freedom of speech, which would not be upheld by a court. So, despite this cease and desist letter, neither former members have anything to worry about.

That said, sending a cease and desist letter does not constitute an illegal action (including harassment) either, so the former members do not have a cause of action against the non-profit either.




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Joseph, Lawyer
Category: Legal
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Experience: Attorney with significant and substantial experience in multiple areas of law.
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