Sometimes your social media posts that can get you fired seem harmless. Maybe you think your boss is overreacting or the problem has been blown out of proportion, but the truth is that your boss can fire you at any time for no reason. Your overly opinionated posts on Facebook could even prompt an early termination for you.
The best way to keep your job and prevent termination due to social media networking is to think before you post. You’ll also want to know these social media posts that can get you fired.
Basics of Pennsylvania Employment
In Pennsylvania, most employees are employed in an at-will employment relationship. Basically, the employee or employer can end the employment relationship at any time for no voiced reason. The only time that an employee is protected from termination at any time is if they are a part of a legally protected class.
Employees often try to claim the right of freedom of speech when disciplined or terminated for sharing a social media post. However, the purpose of the First Amendment is to constrain the government from passing laws that would prevent free speech. So in the case of opinionated social media posts, your employer does not need to take the First Amendment into account. In this situation, freedom of speech doesn’t apply.
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8 Social Media Posts that Can Get You Fired
1. Political posts
Simply sharing your opinions on politics can put you in hot water at your job. It doesn’t matter whether or not your opinion is popular or not. Your employer could choose to fire you for reposting content about a political candidate or writing a status berating a current office holder. It doesn’t matter if your post was humorous or serious.
2. Racist, sexist, discriminatory remarks
Whether or not an employee is posting from a personal and private account or a widely followed public account, insensitive and inflammatory comments, statuses, or posts can easily be the end of employment. Even off the job, employees can be representatives of their workplaces and cost their employer possible business by their actions. This may be the fastest way to lose your job.
3. Work complaints and frustrations
Everyone has something about their job that they just don’t like, whether it’s a task, event, or even a person. When you post those complaints regularly, it doesn’t look good on you or your employer. The more you post complaints, the more likely it is for coworkers and managers to see your feelings about the company even if you don’t list names. Some companies have supervisors and managers check up on their employees’ social media accounts.
4. Confidential information
This might seem like a no brainer. Of course, it is. However, in today’s world of instant sharing, posting confidential information accidentally is far too easy. Even a vague post revealing a little bit of information may be too much information. Whether a business win or loss, it’s best to keep your social media updates completely quiet on this work front. Social media is a powerful tool for influencing clients and customers; don’t let it influence whether or not you lose your job.
5. Grammatical errors in profiles and web content
Job applicants and employees often maintain professional profiles on LinkedIn and other sites. Some even have their own website. These can be useful in networking. But numerous grammatical and spelling problems can cause potential employers to click away from your site and profile. These few pages of content represent you to an online and professional community. Poor writing skills are not the professional representation you want.
6. “Sick” Day
Using one of your sick days for a longer weekend trip with friends or a spontaneous shopping day is not uncommon. Calling in sick and then posting photos of yourself is a sticky situation waiting to happen. After all, your coworkers and boss are likely to see that your sick day was more of a vacation day.
7. Social media networking during work time
A quick check of your social media profile often turns into a longer amount of time. You want to respond to comments, tags, and check out newly posted photos. But, remember that your employer probably monitors your computer usage and may even check up on the times of your posts. Your social media usage should never interfere with your ability to stay on top of your work.
8. Job search posts
In today’s job search, social media can be your best foot forward. However, if your boss or manager sees that your feelers are on the lookout for a new job, you might find yourself in a more urgent job search. Seeking a new job through social media and LinkedIn while remaining employed at your current job requires wisdom in what your post publicly.
Know Your Social Media Employee Rights
With the explosion of social media networking, employment law has not had the chance to keep up with society. Therefore, employers and employees make decisions based on quick gut checks. This is often not enough to protect your job.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) scrutinizes the circumstances when an employee is terminated due to social media usage. The key here is that employees who used social media for “concerted activity” may have a case for wrongful termination. The NLRB protects employee rights to gather together and discuss poor workplace conditions with a goal of improvement. This is considered concerted activity. Employees of today use social media as a way to poll coworkers and seek opinions on workplace situations. If other coworkers participate in an online discussion about work, the NLRB may rule that these workers are protected from negative employment action.
Beware of posting job-related complaints that receive no extra discussion from coworkers. When your posts are perceived to only be for gossip or to let off steam, you have no protections from the NLRB.
Another area that NLRB likes to monitor is your employer’s social media policy. Basically, the policy should never prohibit concerted activities. However, employers can create rules on social media usage during work hours and what types of posts a worker can make associated with their employer. Employers can terminate an employee for violating their policy.
Protect Yourself Before Posting
An anger-inspired post, racist opinions, or political comments on social media can jeopardize your job. A few easy tricks can help to protect you and your (current and future) job from scrutiny. The online world creates a stage for a large audience so it’s imperative to consider every post before pushing “publish.”
Reread your post.
Check over what you’ve written and consider how your coworkers or boss might perceive it. Of course, you want to be the truest version of you, but you also want to be able to pay your bills. Ask yourself the below questions before sending your post out into the online community.
Will my post offend any of my coworkers or boss?
What is the purpose of this post?
Am I just complaining to complain?
Don’t mention your employer.
Of course, it would be better not to post anything inflammatory. But, if you do chime in on a hot topic on social media, be sure that your comments won’t reflect badly on your employer. Employees are ambassadors of their employers so you must conduct yourself wisely.
If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t post it.
You know that one coworker who gets under your skin, and you just want to sound off about them on social media. Don’t do it. Posting about a coworker or boss online can be categorized as bullying or harassment. If you want to stay at your job for a while, don’t write mean posts about your workplace.
Consult with an Employment Lawyer
A lawyer can benefit you in analyzing your employment situation regarding an incident on social media and determining what your legal solutions may be. If you were terminated for posting on social media and you suspect that you’ve suffered wrongful termination based on the information above, reach out to a lawyer today. No one should suffer illegal employment action.