You have to be smart when using social media. Before you comment on something related to work, your employer, or a situation involving work, you'd better be ready to answer for it. While a recent report by the National Labor Relations Board warned against employers creating overly broad social media policies, no one is quite sure where that line in the sand is when it comes to posting and venting online.
Take these three cases of people who posted something online, had it go viral, and then got fired for it.
- Will post for food: A middle-school bus driver in Georgia was outraged when a child confided to him that he went hungry at lunch because his account was less than a dollar short. The bus driver took to the Internet, posting on Facebook that the school throws food away every day, and that it troubled him as a taxpayer to know that kids were going hungry. His post went viral, and then he was fired for violating his school's social media policy. The ACLU has since taken up his case.
- Don't feed the trolls: Trolling has gained attention in the media lately as studies have revealed they share traits in common with psychopaths and sadists. One thing trolls rely on in their Internet interactions is their anonymity-without it, they lose their power over others. One Reddit Troll notorious for posting pictured of bikini-clad under age girls-among other things-attracted so much attention, Gawker wrote an article exposing him and revealing his identity. He was then fired from his programming job at a payday loan company.
- Bad blogging: Blogs are a great way to flex those writing muscles and give yourself a creative outlet. But a blog about work is almost always a bad idea. One English teacher from Pennsylvania wrote a blog about her students' behavior, calling them "lazy, disengaged whiners" and got suspended with pay for it. There are so many reasons this was a bad idea, among them the fact that students are minors.
There are appropriate times and places to post and blog about work, injustice and unfairness. But know your employer's social media policies and be ready to stand behind what you write.
If you have been the target of workplace harassment, discrimination or unfair termination, Bouchillon, Crossan & Colburn, L.C. represents clients in federal court and before the EEOC, MSPB and in state and union grievance hearings. Call Bouchillon, Crossan & Colburn, L.C. at 304.523.8451 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.