Employers have a lot of leeway to fire you over Facebook postings

PORTLAND, Ore. - You might be surprised at how much of your comments on Facebook are fair game for employers to use against you. It is even legal for them to use posts from your private Facebook accounts.

Even if it's a post about your personal life - if your employer doesn't like it, that could cost you too.

That lesson was learned the hard way for Marci Brabb of Eastern Oregon. She said her boss was keeping tabs on her status updates and fired her because of her postings.

"I was mortified. I was so angry and upset and immediately I was going through the people on my friends list who could have shown it to them," she said.

Experts say you should not count on privacy settings to protect your comments from being seen by your boss. There's really nothing private about anything online. It's really no different than screaming them from a street corner.

And sometimes those comments can end up in a simple Google search. Or a friend of a friend could share something you thought was private. It doesn't matter.

Attorney Jos Klein says employers have the upper hand. So think before you post.

"Employees generally work at will and employers can fire employees for anything they want, any reason they want to as long as that reason is not discriminatory," he said.

Your posts don't even have to be about work. Maybe you post something about your wild night and how you're still buzzed the day after. You might as well just crack open a beer at your cubicle.

As long as employers aren't hacking into your account, whatever they see is fair game and Klein says the "but it was on my private account" argument won't work.

Employers can't punish you for talking about workplace conditions with other co-workers, including attempts to unionize. You're also protected if you're posting about your ethnicity, religion and, in Oregon, your sexual orientation.

Klein says to expect workplace contracts and policies to change to include information about acceptable social media behavior - just like a dress code.

A good rule of thumb: When in doubt, don't post.