Social media has become so popular on the web that it is now the single most common thing we do online.
Given that most employers provide internet access, you can bet that employees are using social media at work – for business and for pleasure – at a staggering rate.
This activity can create new opportunities for your company, but it can also create new problems and potentially new legal liabilities, particularly when you’re faced with the decision of whether to terminate employees due to social media activities.
The NLRB protects an employee’s right to discuss their wages and working conditions with each other in an effort to improve them, but does not protect solo rants on social media.
And what about the termination of a supervisor for violating an employee's privacy rights, or for using social media illegally or inappropriately for background checks and screening?
A social media policy is critically important as employees must know that there is a strict code of conduct. Not all negative tweets and posts deserve termination, but for those that do, employers must maintain consistency in their response.
When faced with the decision of whether to terminate an employee based on social media activities, employers can also minimize public relations missteps and prevent damage to corporate reputation while complying with federal and state laws and with the restrictions imposed on employers by the National Labor Relations Board.
Employers can also navigate the difficult process of conducting internal investigations by ensuring they have access to critical information stored on electronic devices or social media sites, while complying with employee privacy considerations and legislation like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Q1. When can an employee be terminated for posting a complaint against their company?
Q2. What rights does an employee have when an employer tries to terminate them for a social media violation?
Q3. Should employers have access to employees' social media passwords when looking to terminate for social media policy violations?
Q4. What types of information should be documented when attempting to terminate an employee for social media use?
Q5. What language should be included in a social media policy regarding terminations for inappropriate social media use?
Q6. How does the Stored Communications Act affect an employer’s ability to investigate employee or supervisor terminations?
Q7. What are the DOs and DON’T’s when terminating an employee for a social media offense?
Q8. How can an organization protect its corporate reputation when firing an employee due to social media use?