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Social Media and Your Job

Social Media and Your Job

Protect your career with these simple tips on how to avoid being fired for your social media usage.

Social Media and Your Job

In 2016, it has become increasingly common for employees to face discipline or even termination over their posts on social media.  It seems as though there is a new story every week about someone who has been fired for something that they’ve said online. Posting, tweeting or blogging racist, sexist, insensitive or bigoted comments online can have a serious impact on your job — even if you are doing it on your own time, using a personal account.

How to Avoid Being Fired for Social Media Usage

When it comes to social media and your career, the most important thing is to use common sense.  This should start with updating the privacy settings on your accounts, which may include using an alias.  Here are some more tips for smart social media usage:

  1. Don’t Share Confidential Information

    Most employees understand that posting clearly confidential documents or information online is a very bad idea.  But sometimes, even casual comments about your job could be construed as sharing confidential information.  If you aren’t careful, you may inadvertently be sharing information that your boss wanted to keep private.  For example, if you express excitement about a deal going through, or disappointment that a deal fell apart, you may be revealing information that your employer wants to keep quiet.  While it can be tempting to post interesting or funny tidbits about your day at work, think carefully before posting to make sure that you aren’t sharing information that should be kept confidential.

  2. Do Not Post Offensive Comments
    If you post or tweet anything that could be construed as racist, sexist, bigoted or otherwise offensive, your job may be at risk.  While this may seem unfair, the reality is that online statements made by an employee can reflect badly on a company.  Employers may also be inclined to fire an employee whose online presence raises questions about their ability to treat coworkers and customers or clients fairly.  Before commenting, posting, tweeting or blogging, carefully consider the potential impact of your words on your employment.  If they could be seen as offensive or discriminatory, do not post them.
  3. Think Twice Before Complaining About Your Job
    It’s natural to want to vent about your job — most people experience frustration at work, and social media can be an easy way to blow off steam.  But complaining about your job online can result in serious consequences.

    In some cases, social media postings are protected by the law.  For example, if an employee is engaging in protected activity — such as talking with co-workers about job concerns — they may be protected under federal labor law.  The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has found in favor of employees who were fired after griping online about their employment.  The key in these cases is whether or not the postings are “protected concerted activity.” But if you are simply stating that your boss is a jerk or complaining about customers, your comments will not likely be protected. If you have complaints about your workplace, consider whether social media is really the best way to air them.  In most cases, you are more likely to find a better solution to these issues off-line.

  4. Avoid Using Social Media During the Workday
    If you’re on Facebook or Twitter when you should be working, you could land in hot water.  While many employers are forgiving of a quick check-in, if you are spending a substantial amount of time on social media instead of working, there could be negative consequences.

If you’ve been disciplined or fired over your social media usage, you will need an experienced employment law attorney on your side.  Contact PLBSH now at (800) 435-7542 or info@plbsh.com today to schedule a consultation.

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