Each and every day, we use social media whether for business or personal needs. As owners and operators of funeral homes and cemeteries, what are the guidelines for implementing social media policies and can an employee be fired for the content they post? Our Director of Regulatory Compliance, Curtis Rostad provides his insights to this important question below.
Question: Can an employee be fired for something posted on Facebook or other social media?
Curtis Rostad: In an at-will state, an employee can be terminated for any reason that is not illegal. An employee could not be fired for instance, if they are directing their communication to other employees in an attempt to organize or unionize. An employee cannot be fired for a discriminatory reason. Some labor laws and whistleblower statutes protect workers who complain truthfully about unsafe work conditions, illegal activities, etc. They also offer protection from retaliation for exposing these issues.
Beyond those exceptions, an employee in an at-will state could be fired for posting just about anything including:
- Racist or sexist remarks,
- Divulging confidential information such as company proprietary or financial information,
- Any threat of violence, even in jest (“Somedays I could just shoot him! LOL”),
- Unprofessional conduct, such as complaining about difficulty serving a family, family finances, or the condition of a body,
- Insubordination, such as personal attacks against a supervisor or owner.
Eighteen percent of employers say they have fired someone over social media content. Even if a particular negative post does not rise to the level of termination, it certainly is not going to endear the employee to the manager or owner. Employees are well advised to keep their “venting” comments to themselves.
And remember, once something is on the internet, it is there forever for future prospective employers to see.
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