Most California residents view their Facebook and other social media platforms as a place to share insight into their lives. However, many employers put policies in place that restrict the type of content that their employees may post. One of the most frequently asked questions about employment law involves the legality of an employer firing an employee for his or her social media posts.
Has it happened before?
There is precedent for employers firing employees based on social media activity. For instance, in May of 2021, the Associated Press fired a reporter for her posts on Twitter which violated her contract. In employment-at-will states, employers can terminate for virtually any reason, including activity on social media.
Legally protected posts
Certain Facebook posts, as well as posts on other forms of social media, are legally protected. In a recent case, the National Labor Relations Board (NLBR) challenged the firing of an employee who posted something negative about her boss. The NLBR proved that the company’s social media policy was unconstitutional, and their client was the victim of wrongful termination.
Can I get fired for my posts?
Not every social media post receives legal protection. For instance, if you make a Facebook post in which you call your boss names, speak negatively about the company you work for or share private information, your employer has the legal right to terminate your employment.
However, current labor laws provide legal protection for some comments about working conditions. Many career professionals recommend that employees take a cooling-off day before they post anything negative about their job online.
Career counselors also agree that employees should familiarize themselves with their company’s social media policy. In most cases, you can’t fix workplace problems by posting on social media.