Social Media in the Workplace
Some Advice Before Hitting "Send"
Just about everyone does it.
While certain federal regulations prevent an employer from placing a blanket, all-encompassing restriction on an employee’s right to discuss certain work related issues using social media, on the flip side, an employee does not have the unfettered right to post his or her opinion on either his employer or on other topics that might be considered inappropriate for the workplace. Consequently, it is important for all employees to understand exactly what you are and are not allowed to say about your employer and/or its business dealings. Whether or not your employer has an actual “social media policy” in place, a good rule of thumb to follow, is to never disparage your employer.
There are, however, certain circumstances in which employee may have the right to discuss and/or criticize an employer’s wage policies or working conditions. These discussions may even take place at the workplace and on social media, provided they occur in non-work areas (like a lunch room or break room) and during non-work periods (such as lunch hour or coffee break). However, under no circumstances may an employee disparage its employer, or sully its employer’s business’ reputation without valid reason.
Employees need to be mindful of their emotions and exercise good judgment and common sense before hitting “Post” and making public any less than favorable commentary about their employer, or something otherwise equally inappropriate. Failure to do so, and the employee may very well end up like these individuals:
- A New England Patriots cheerleader was let go after posting on social media a photograph of herself with a swastika.
- A senior PA State Corrections Officer was fired after making a joke on Facebook about inmates being groped in prison by the prison guards
- A waitress was terminated from her job after posting disparaging remarks about a customer
- A Buckingham Palace guard who was relieved from his position after referring to Kate Middleton as a “stupid, stuck-up cow!”
The bottom line to employees, therefore, is to be aware of your employer’s social media policies as well as its “Bring Your Own Device” policies. Most importantly, make sure you think before posting on social media platforms, anything even remotely work related about your employer, employment, and related work activities. Keep in mind that what you may consider as “merely expressing to and sharing your opinion with” all 562 of your Facebook “Friends”, may actually be a violation of your employer’s social media policy – resulting in either disciplinary action against you, termination of your employment, or at worst, the initiation of legal proceedings against you.
If you believe you may have been wrongfully or unfairly disciplined or terminated from your employment as a result of a comment or post you made on social media, contact us. This area of the law is still in transition,and our employment attorneys will be more than happy to advise you on your rights and obligations, as well as to any recourse you may have against your employer.
Do you know someone who could benefit from this information? Pass it along and tell them about South Shore Law. Our experienced attorneys are committed to successfully solving any current legal challenges while insulating you from potential future threats to you or a business. Everyday, our lawyers who live right here on the South Shore, strive to deliver exceptional legal representation to our neighbors and friends at affordable rates.