Social media is more than just a communication tool to keep in touch with friends and family. It has grown to be a platform of self-expression where ideologies and opinions reach the masses.
In spite of claims to freedom of speech, employees can face consequences from their private employer over what they say online. Comments you make on social media could lead to your lawful termination.
Unlawful termination scenarios
There are a few scenarios of social media activity that cannot lead to termination. These fall under protected concerted activity and include:
- Making truthful or accurate comments of an unsafe working environment
- Sharing demographic information related to your religion, age or sexual orientation
- Expressing support or interest in a union
- Offering suggestions to co-workers to contact legal help over workplace rights
Employers are only able to terminate an employee for a lawful reason.
Lawful termination scenarios
Termination scenarios could involve reasoning beyond the content of a social media post. Companies with a clear computer or internet usage guideline may have grounds to fire an employee if the posts happened during work hours and through company equipment or networks. Companies may consider inflammatory or offensive postings contributors to a hostile work environment, and the release of proprietary information is an act of theft. Discriminatory remarks, offensive comments concerning clients or posts revealing illegal or unethical activity can also have negative consequences at work.
Protected speech is a complex issue for social media users, particularly as it relates to their employment. Avoid jeopardizing your job by carefully monitoring your social media activity.