Anniston considers unusual ordinance for city employees


ANNISTON, AL (WBRC) - The city of Anniston is considering a new rule that would ban city employees from saying anything negative about the city on social networking sites like Facebook.

The debate started after an Anniston police officer posted a photo of Councilor Ben Little that called him "a moron."  City leaders said the ban would reduce negativity and bad publicity for the city.

David Wiley, an attorney at Birmingham's Jackson Lewis, said while Anniston city officials have a right to be concerned, government employees have greater protection under the First Amendment than private citizens. However, if a private citizen posts something negative about a boss or co-worker on Facebook, they could be fired.

"If an employee complains about their employer being rude or that type of thing, there is no protection for those employees. And the employer could determine we don't want to have that kind of person here anymore."

Wiley said the best advice for everyone is to be cautious and think before you type.

"The thing to remember as an employee is that whatever you put out there assume the worst case, if some one saw this, or if my mother saw this what would she think?"

Anniston city councilors will revisit the issue again Tuesday.  Councilor Little said he expects they will pass some kind of ordinance soon.

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