In a world connected through social media almost nothing goes unnoticed. Even an employee making a racist or homophobic comment on social media has the potential to ruin the name of a company. Now, in scenarios like these you might want to fire the employee. But can you fire an employee for social media posts?
Employees can get fired for posts that tarnish the name of their company, hurt colleagues, give false information about the company and even for making offensive posts. Moreover, an employer can also dismiss an employee for sharing racist or sexist posts not related to the company.
In this article, I will talk about what type of posts can give an employer the right to fire any employee. After that, I will talk about what the employer and employees should do to avoid such situations.
Type of Posts That Can Get Someone Fired
When someone joins a company for the first time, they are given a pile of documents where the company rules, regulations, and policies are written. People often neglect these documents and do not read the documents thoroughly. These actions are very concerning for the employers because the employees can carelessly hamper the company's status.
As the use of social media like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are spreading like wildfire, most of the companies add a special section for the use of social media in their rules. The list is pretty long. So, the employees should read and be clear about the company policies regarding posting and sharing content on social media.
Whether you are an employer or employee, you should be aware of the posts that can create controversy, and put the company in jeopardy. However, employees have their personal opinions, and as an employer, you cannot take control of everything. So, even if you do not like some posts, you should not overreact.
Here are different types of social posts you should be concerned about that can be a solid reason for firing an employee.
Tarnishes the Company’s Reputation
Is your employee posting information about the company that can stain the company’s face value in the market? Sometimes employees might feel unsatisfied with the company policies and complain about them on social media.
These types of posts can create a bad impression on outside people, and they might not want to associate themselves with the company. As a result, the employer can lose future business deals. The HR department can monitor an employee’s complaints on social media and think that he or she is not fit to work in the company anymore.
So, if your employee is sharing such information, you can fire them on the grounds of defaming the company.
Posting about Projects and Company Decisions
Has your employee been talking about projects and company decisions on social media before you have made them official? Then it can be a matter of great concern. Sharing inside information before the company allows, is a serious crime.
Ideas of new projects can get stolen, and the company can face huge losses because of such carelessness. Hence, employers have the right to remove an employee for sharing valuable information without permission.
Showing Dissatisfaction towards the Employer or Company
Employers can fire employees if they see an employee showing dissatisfaction. Maybe an employee was disciplined for their lack of competence or behavior in the workplace by the employer. Then the employee gets home and shares the information on social media or shows a grudge against the employer.
This kind of behavior can also harm the image of the employer and the company. So, as an employer, you can take action against such employees.
Showing Hate toward Colleagues
A friendly relationship among the workers in a company can be highly fruitful for the success of a company. Unfortunately, that might not be easy in every workplace. However, it is professionally expected to not show any animosity in the workplace.
But still, sometimes employees can say negative things about their colleagues on social media, which can be disrespectful. They might think that the post will not be seen by their colleagues or boss. But it can reach them anyway.
Moreover, there are many cases when employees bully or pass negative comments on another colleague’s gender, religion, or ethnicity. Employers need to be aware of these kinds of situations because these might lead to hostile and complicated situations. So, employers have to intervene and fire employees who cause trouble.
Posting from Office Computer or Internet
Employers provide resources like computer and internet facilities to the employees so that they can work sincerely for the company. When employers see that the employees are using the resource for their personal use, then they assess the employee’s behavior.
Any posts by the employee, no matter how innocent, are a serious violation of company policies. The employees should not misuse the company resource and properties. If they do, the employers have the right to decide on removing anyone who misuses company resources.
Promoting Other Companies or Products
Employers hire people to work for their company. Hence, they accept the employees to be loyal to the company. It also means the employees should not show any interest or actively promote other companies or products without permission.
Employers do not tolerate this kind of post on social media because it makes them question an employee’s loyalty towards the company. Therefore, employees can face serious consequences.
Posting False Information about Personal Life or Work Place
People often post false information about themselves on social media. It can be just a few lines or an edited photo. But if it gives misleading information about the employee, it can be an issue.
For example, an employee might post that it is her birthday, but on company records the birth date of that employee is different. The employer can be doubtful about the employee’s identity and fire her.
Employers also have the right to sack an employee if they see them posting false information about the company or workplace. For example, someone might be complaining about the working conditions, but after investigation, the problem he or she talked about on social media may not be proved. Hence, the employee will get fired.
Negative Comments about Clients
It is not always easy to work with everyone. There can be clients with impractical demands, and it is the duty of the employees and the employer to convince the clients to agree to their terms and conditions.
However, if you see an employee sharing negative comments and information on social media about one of your valuable clients, it is your responsibility to defend the client by disciplining the employee.
Clients are valuable for the growth of a company. If the clients are offended, they might take action against the company or defame it to other potential customers. So, employees who complain about clients on social media are a problem for your company even if they work hard.
Sharing Political Opinions
It is the right of any people to voice their own opinion. However, sometimes it is better to refrain from stating opinions about controversial political issues. So, employees should not share any opinions on politics because employers can fire them for that.
Sexist, racist, or discriminatory posts
The reputation of your company depends on the people who work there. It is hard to track all the employees’ personal information on social media. However, you might be informed about an employee who is sharing sexist or racist content or memes on social media, which can hurt someone or a community.
Who does not know about the infamous tweet of a woman about going to Africa! Then she posted a very offensive and racist comment about going to Africa and not getting AIDS because she was white. This Tweet became viral, and the woman was fired from her workplace because of it.
So, as an employer, you can fire an employee because people may have a bad impression about the company for the insensitive comments by that employee.
Misusing Sick Leaves
Has one of your employees taken sick leave from the office but then posting photos of vacations? This is another violation of company policy. The employees are supposed to stay at home or hospital when they take sick leaves from you. They cannot go on vacations.
The employees might give excuses such as they went on vacation to improve their mental or physical health. But they must inform the HR department before going on trips while they are on sick leave.
Posting Private Information of Other Related to Work
If any tweet, post, or image gives away personal and sensitive information about the company, workers, or clients, it has to be taken seriously. An employee should not expose company location or details about people without permission.
This type of post can risk someone’s safety. Therefore, a letter of termination can be handed to employees for oversharing.
What Employers Can Do to Prevent Oversharing?
In most of these cases, the employees are ignorant about the consequences of their social media posts. They do not think matters seriously and post things that can affect the company and career.
As an employer, you have to clearly explain the rules of using social media and sharing information on any social media by the employees of the company. Here is what you can do to prevent employees from oversharing in social media:
- Clearly warn employees about using social media for personal use during office hours.
- Add special policies and rules in legal papers to be signed by the employees.
- Inform the recruits about the disciplinary actions against oversharing information.
- Monitor the internet and computer of the office to see if employees are misusing them.
- Advise employees not to share confidential company information
- Encourage employees to respect each other regardless of gender, race, and beliefs.
- Ban Bullying and harassing people in the workplace and social media.
- Prohibiting from sharing customer information.
- Review sick leaves and take prompt actions against employees who lie about it.
- If you want to emphasize a ban of some kind of social media post that can be detrimental to your business, inform the employees.
- Before considering firing an employee because of social media posts, think about it carefully. You may not fire an employee right away. Employees can give warnings and monitor the future activities of an employee who over shared once.
- If the employee does not stop his or her behavior, then you should take action.
- Finally, learn about your legal rights to fire an employee over social media posts. You should understand that the employees have the right to voice their opinions as citizens.
What Employees Should Do Before Posting in Social Media
The employer alone cannot stop oversharing information on social media. The employees are actually the people who should be careful when they post anything on social media because they are the ones getting fired.
Here is what you can do if you are an employee of a company or organization:
Read the Documents
When you are joining a company, you are given legal documents to read, and you can only join the company if you agree with the terms and conditions. People often ignore them. But it can be problematic in the future if you do not read the documents properly.
Read the section of the documents where the company talks about the rules of using social media. The company might have its own set of rules regarding the use of social media and legal actions regarding any post they find harmful. If you agree to the terms, then make sure you do not post anything that goes against company rules.
Think Before You Post
You might think you have the right to post anything you want on your social media accounts. But that is not always the case. Anything you post can affect people who read or see them. So, before you post anything on social media, ask yourself some questions. Is the post really harmless? Can the post upset people, especially your employer?
You should also think about the validity of the contents you are sharing. Refrain from sharing any false or misleading information. Any false content shared from your account can be a reason for getting fired from your workplace.
Keep Information Confidential
Keep any information related to your office confidential. You should not post any information about company projects or people that can be damaging to the company.
Also, if you are facing any problems with your employer, colleagues, and office condition, do not post about it on social media. Good or bad, do not share any workplace information without permission.
Do Not Use Social Media for Personal Reasons in Office
Your employers give you a computer and internet connection to work for them. So be smart and do not misuse them. You may not have much work to do and decide to spend some time on social media. It is seen as unprofessional behavior. Moreover, posting from company resources is also a bad idea.
Now, some think they can use their phone or laptop to browse social media during office hours. But your employer can still take action against you for wasting office time. Things can get even more complicated when you post during office time.
Refrain from Commenting on Political or Controversial Topics
Sometimes it is hard to control our emotions, and we post content and give comments on various issues. That is alright until it directly clashes with your company policies. Again, even if it was not written in the policy, you still can be sacked for sharing political and sensitive topics. Hence, you should stop yourself from getting into such situations.
Do Not Post Misleading Information
Lying about your workplace and people can get you into a serious problem. Do not post anything that can give wrong information about your workplace. Before you talk about any issue in social media, talk about it with the authority or your employer. This way, you can solve a problem
However, posting directly on social media is considered impulsive and unprofessional. Furthermore, when you think a problem should be addressed, talk about it with your colleagues and ask their opinions. Because when the authority investigates the issue and finds nothing serious, you will be in trouble.
Be Careful Outside Workplace
Of course, you are free to do whatever you want after office hours and use your social media however you want. Nonetheless, you have to be cautious. Any posts about your workplace from your accounts are still being monitored by the HR department of your office. So, be wise and do not post anything about work.
Know Your Rights
Sometimes, your posts can be harmless, and still, your employers use them to fire you. Hence, you should know what you can post on social media and what actions you can take if anyone fires you over a social media post.
So, can you fire an employee for social media posts? By now, you have understood that you have the right to sack an employee for their social media posts. When an employee violates the company rules and overshares information on social media, they should be disciplined as per company rules.