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  • Writer's picturePeter Lamont, Esq.

Employees Need to Watch What They Say on Social Media

Social media has become an integral part of our daily lives. With billions of people using social media platforms every day, it has become a popular way to connect, share information, and express opinions. However, what many people fail to realize is that social media can have severe consequences, especially when it comes to employment.

Why Employers Monitor Social Media

In recent years, we have seen an increase in the number of employees losing their jobs due to their social media activity. Employers are increasingly using social media to monitor the behavior of their employees, and in many cases, they are not hesitating to take action against those who they feel are damaging their brand or reputation.


The reason why employers are monitoring social media activity is simple: what employees say on social media can have a significant impact on the company's reputation. Comments that are offensive, discriminatory, or damaging to the company's image can quickly spread and cause significant harm to the organization. It's not just the company's reputation that is at stake either; employees who make inappropriate comments on social media can damage their own personal brand, making it difficult for them to find future employment.


The consequences of inappropriate social media activity can be severe, and in many cases, employees who have been terminated have little legal recourse. In the United States, for example, most states have "at-will" employment laws, which means that an employer can terminate an employee at any time and for any reason, as long as it is not discriminatory.


A Few Social Media Tips

So, what can employees do to protect themselves from the consequences of inappropriate social media activity? The best course of action is to be mindful of what you say on social media, particularly if it is related to your job or your employer. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  1. Be professional: Avoid posting comments that are discriminatory, offensive, or damaging to the company's image.

  2. Think before you post: Consider the potential consequences of your social media activity, and avoid posting anything that could be seen as inappropriate or offensive.

  3. Use privacy settings: Make sure that your social media accounts are set to private, so only your friends and family can see your posts.

  4. Don't post during work hours: Avoid posting on social media during work hours, especially if it is related to your job or employer.

  5. Be aware of your company's social media policy: Many companies have policies regarding social media use. Make sure you are familiar with your company's policy and adhere to it.

Just Becuase its Private Doesn't Mean it WIll Stay Private

Even if you have your privacy settings on, it's important to remember that not everything you post on social media will remain private. There are several ways that your social media activity can become public, even if you have taken steps to keep it private. For example, if someone you are connected with on social media shares your post, it can become visible to their friends and followers. Additionally, social media platforms themselves can change their privacy policies or experience security breaches that could compromise your data. It's also possible that your social media activity could be discovered during a workplace investigation or legal proceeding. The bottom line is that you should always be mindful of what you post on social media, even if you think it's private. Once you put something out there, you lose control over how it is shared and who sees it.


Exmaples of Employees Fired Over Social Media

There have been many instances where employees have been fired for their social media posts. Here are some examples:

  • In 2013, a woman was fired from her job as a PR executive after she posted a tweet that was deemed racist and offensive. She tweeted, "Going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS. Just kidding. I'm white!" The tweet quickly went viral, and Sacco was fired from her job before she even landed in Africa.

  • In 2016, a Chipotle employee was fired after she tweeted negative comments about the company's food and its customers. The employee tweeted, "Guac is extra, you know that right? Yeah, you should also know that you're a jerk for coming in 10 minutes before we close." The tweet went viral, and the employee was fired from her job.

  • In 2017, a Google employee was fired after he wrote a memo that criticized the company's diversity policies. The memo claimed that women were less suited to tech jobs than men, and it sparked a huge controversy within the company and in the wider tech industry. The employee was fired for violating the company's code of conduct.

  • In 2019, a Missouri teacher was fired after she tweeted a racist comment about a student who was protesting the national anthem. The teacher tweeted, "If they don't like the country they can go back to where they came from." The tweet sparked outrage, and the teacher was fired from her job.

These are just a few examples of how social media activity can have severe consequences for employees. It's essential to be mindful of what you post on social media and how it could be perceived by others, particularly when it comes to your job or employer.


Conclusion

Social media is a powerful tool that can have both positive and negative consequences. While it is essential to exercise your right to free speech, it is equally important to be mindful of what you say on social media, particularly when it comes to your job or employer. Remember, what you say on social media can have severe consequences, and it's not worth risking your job or your reputation for a few ill-considered comments.


Do you have questions about this post? If so, contact us today at our Bergen County Office. Call Us at (201) 904-2211 or email Us at info@pjlesq.com

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If you would like more information about this post or if you want to discuss your legal matter with an attorney at the Law Offices of Peter J. Lamont, please contact me at pl@pjlesq.com or at (201) 904-2211. Don't forget to check out and subscribe to our podcast and YouTube channel. We have hundreds of podcasts and videos concerning a variety of business and legal topics. I look forward to answering any questions that you might have.

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As with any legal issue, it is important that you obtain competent legal counsel before making any decisions about how to respond to a subpoena or whether to challenge one - even if you believe that compliance is not required. Because each situation is different, it may be impossible for this article to address all issues raised by every situation encountered in responding to a subpoena. The information below can give you guidance regarding some common issues related to subpoenas, but you should consult with an attorney before taking any actions (or refraining from acts) based on these suggestions. Separately, this post will focus on New Jersey law. If you receive a subpoena in a state other than New Jersey you should immediately seek the advice of an attorney in your state as certain rules differ in other states.

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