Social media allows Americans to stay connected and to communicate with others from all over the world at any given time. Although folks should certainly feel empowered to share their beliefs, they must also be careful in how they do so. Social media can have a negative impact on lives. In California and throughout the U.S., social media has been used against people in criminal cases and it has also been the cause for some divorces. Social media may even cost workers their jobs.
Last week, a 22-year-old woman was fired from her job when her employer became aware of a Facebook post the employee had made after President Barack Obama was reelected on Nov. 6. According to reports, the woman had used a racial slur when voicing her opinion about the president being reelected to serve another 4-year term. The woman had worked at a Cold Stone Creamery located in California for a few months before she was fired last week.
The woman's Facebook comments went viral and the Secret Service is even investigating the woman because she had also made a comment about President Obama being assassinated. The woman claims that she was just using social media to voice her opinion and acknowledged that part of her comment was "harsh." Her former manager said that she was fired because the woman's Facebook comments "do not reflect [Cold Stone Creamery's] opinions."
Legislation has recently been passed in California to protect workers from having to share their Facebook accounts and other social media accounts with employers, but there are still no clear laws regarding whether employers can terminate employees over what is posted on their accounts.
In these complicated situations, employees may want to consider consulting an attorney in order to learn more about protecting their rights and whether they can take legal action against an employer after being terminated for a Facebook post or comment on Twitter. Whether workers' social media posts are inappropriate or not, firing a worker over what an employer sees on his or her social media account might be a violation of an employee's rights.
Source: Los Angeles Times, "Obama Facebook threat not a 'big deal,' woman says," Wesley Lowery, Nov. 12, 2012
- Our firm provides counsel to those who believe their rights have been violated in the workplace. To learn more about employee rights and workplace laws, please visit our San Diego employment law attorneys page.