Social media is here, and it is not going away. The average American spends a minimum of one hour of their workday answering personal calls, emails, and of course, social media. Millenials are quoted to be even more invested, spending an average of 1.8 hours a day on social media alone.
Studies show that spending time on the internet during work hours is great for productivity as perusing your accounts allows for much-needed rest from the workload ahead. Some companies even go as far as scheduling additional social media breaks into their workday to accommodate this benefit. Still, the policies of what can or cannot get you fired are not too clear and can vary with each organization.
Karen Thompson who has worked in Human Resources for various organizations cautions that termination due to social media posts “depends on the whims of your boss.” You may think you are protected by the First Amendment, but this freedom does not apply to private employers. Thompson says, “When you don’t have a new rule, people make up their own.” Most employers have policies in place that address disrespectful behavior; if your post can be deemed disrespectful by your employer, then they may have a case to terminate you.
Protect Your Online Privacy
We have all seen the stories of those who have been fired from their companies due to personal posts, the California Pizza Kitchen employee who complained about his uniform, the female programmer who called out her shamers at a tech conference, even employees who had a little fun doing the Harlem shake at work. All occasions were deemed disrespectful and each employee was dismissed from their organization. Thompson advises to take caution when friending your co-workers on social media and above all else, do not friend your managers or higher-ups. It can be easy to feel pressured to join the work community, but this is the best way to ensure that your boss can not see what is on your account.
Some states like Oregon have passed laws to further protect employees’ rights. Effective January 1, 2016, employers were not allowed to ask of employees or potential employees for any of the following:
- Establishment of a personal social media account for the benefit of the organization,
- To disclose your personal social media accounts,
- To add your employer on social media accounts,
- To access your social media account for investigation while on the clock.
The law does not prohibit an employer from accessing any information that may be public on the internet but, the clause makes sure to note that an employer has no right to access an employee’s account without the employee’s permission to his or her username and password.
Losing your job can be stressful, losing your job for a subjective matter makes it worse. If you believe that your privacy has been invaded and that you have been wrongfully terminated, you may be able to fight back. Contact HKM Employment Attorneys LLP at (503) 389-1130 to learn more about your options.