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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Should social media rants get you fired?

Should an employee be fired because of social media rants? Some business experts feel that employees that sound off should be fired because they don’t uphold the character and face of company. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has heard these types of cases since 2010 and began issuing decisions in 2012. The NLRB usually sides with the employee, reasoning that the employee’s social media postings are protected activities under the National Labor Relations Act, specifically-Employee rights to organize and speak out against unfair labor conditions.

If the rants take place on company time, using company resources, the employee could be disciplined for infractions other than the actual posting. But when the postings occur outside of work, the line has been drawn between employee rights and violating policy.

Beyond firing someone for something you don’t like on social media is the policy prohibiting the rant. If the company doesn’t have a policy then little action can be taken. Many businesses, especially small business, have no policy regarding social media. Employee handbooks and company policy need to be  living documents. It seems like there is always a new topic to be covered. Social media policy is an extension of that organism. Although social media and employees going off on their employers are not new, the policies governing how businesses handle it are still evolving. And the NLRB helps draft those policies each time it offers a decision. Businesses have to stay abreast of the issues and the decisions being made.

Defending the honor of the company or getting rid of a bad employee, firing someone for his or her rants on social media can be a dicey situation. Opening up the company as well as the person responsible for the firing to court action.

See our blog archive for other posts relating to social media policy issues:

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