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"Can Social Media Use Be A Ground For Firing ? " - Jobs/Vacancies - Nairaland

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"Can Social Media Use Be A Ground For Firing ? " by Yungsam1(m): 2:41am On Mar 10, 2022
Can Social Media Activity Be Grounds For Firing an Employee?

Individuals, companies, governments; everyone uses social media. It has become part and parcel of all forms of personal, communal, and corporate interactions in these times. However, just like physical interactions, interactions on social media are not always amicable, as would be expected. They often get emotionally charged, ill-expressed or insensitive. But could you get fired from your job because of something you said (or did) on social media? That would be very unlikely, right?
More and more companies (across and beyond America) now fire employees based on their social media activity, when these activities are deemed harmful to the company’s image or likely to breed hostility at work. So, yes, what you say (or do) on Social Media can be grounds for being fired.
While it might seem unfair, private companies in at-will states can fire their employees at any time for any lawful reason.
This, of course, leads us to question what lawful reasons are in this context.
The Exceptions
The devil, they say, is in the details. What differentiates an unlawful reason from an unlawful reason for firing an employee is often peculiar to each case. However, generally speaking, employees cannot be fired for blowing the whistle on workplace crimes such as sexual harassment, gender, or racial discrimination. And they cannot be fired solely because of race, gender, disability, age, or pregnancy either.
Be that as it may, employees who miss work, fail to perform their job according to their employment contract, or fall short of any of the causes for termination stated in their contract cannot cry foul if their appointments are terminated.
Following this, private companies and employers can lawfully reprimand or fire an employee for what they post on social media when what they post is deemed harmful to the company’s image or workplace morale. However, a few particular cases veer off this norm.
Generally, you will not be fired for posting:
* Accurate statements about unsafe working conditions or office cultures, like harassment or health hazards.
*  Unoffensive comments about your interest in joining or supporting a union or cause.
* Messages to co-workers suggesting that they contact a lawyer for information on workplace rights.
*  Personal demographic information like your race, sex, age, religious affiliation.
Should Social Media Matter in Hiring and Firing?
While it should not be the main criteria used in the hiring and firing process, almost everyone is on social media these days. This makes it a priceless source of data that should be mined, even for hiring and firing.
Companies naturally want employees whose values align with the company’s values. And where social media posts show a conflict on that front, it can lead to termination or a decision not to hire.
Furthermore, while employees often post some content for virtue-signaling or in the heat of emotional triggers, employers can gain deeper insights into employees’ personalities through their social media all the same.
Be that as it may, once hired, an employees’ performance, attendance, and interpersonal prowess should be more important to employers than their social media activity.
What Are Your Legal Rights Concerning Social Media in the Workplace?
Employees’ legal rights vary from state to state.
Generally speaking, however, you and other employees can legally come together to complain about labor conditions and recommend solutions. Be that as it may, you are not expected to use social media during office hours except that is your job.
Moving on, when you’re off work, you are free to act as you please, provided your activities do not hurt your employer’s brand or make them appear disreputable. And when it’s all said and done, avoid extreme and offensive posts, and you will be safe from the possibility of being fired for a social media post.
Is it Legal for Companies to have Social Media Policies?
- It is completely legal for companies to have social media policies are completely legal. Companies are free to stipulate social media codes of conduct for all staff, provided they do not violate federal or state labor laws. This is why companies’ social media policies in the USA accord to the provisions of the National Labor Relations Act, The Fair Labor Standards Act, and other acts that dictate workplace interactions between employers and employees in the USA.
Is it Legal for Employees to Use Social Media to Make Negative Statements About their Employers?
Employees have the legal right to collectively use social media to kick against unfavourable labour conditions. However, this differs from making negative statements about their employers. The latter is more subjective and could lead to sack or sanction if the employer deems it extreme or offensive.
Be that as it may, employees could get away with some non-positive statements about their employers if expressed within the context of improving employee welfare.
What To Do
- Be respectful and polite in your self-expression on social media.
- Follow your employer’s social media policies and only work with companies whose values and public posturing align with yours.
- Be professional with your public social media accounts.
- If you tend to be controversial in your views, you might take the option of blocking your co-workers from seeing your social media posts. That way, no one associated with your job can see what you post.
- Take your work-related complaints to your boss directly rather than posting them on social media.
- If you don’t trust your boss to handle it well, look for another job with a company with higher integrity and professionalism.
- Avoid posting your company’s trade secrets or other employees’ addresses or pay rates.
- Avoid posting negative comments about your employer’s clients or customers.
- Avoid making posts that prove you lied to your employer.
-  Avoid making racy posts.

Written by
Sam Akanimo

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