Social media in the workplace is a fact of business life. When it comes to getting the word out about your company, there is no substitute for marketing on social media-it’s the fastest way to share information and generate buzz. Studies show that over 80% of employees believe social media improves their work relationships, and 60% believe it improves their decision-making processes. In fact, there is some research to suggest that employees who use social media outperform those who don’t. But despite these advantages, there is an ugly side to social media that employees should avoid at all costs. Here are 5 common social media faux pas that can get you fired:
1) Trash-Talking Customers or Clients
Anyone who posts disparaging remarks about their customers shouldn’t be surprised if their employment is short-lived. Take, for example, Tamlynn Yoder, who was fired from an Outback Steakhouse in 2018 for posting an angry Facebook status after she didn’t get a tip. Instead of a tip, Yoder got fired. The lesson is clear: when it comes to your customers and clients, keep your negative thoughts to yourself-or at least off social media.
2) Trash-Talking Your Employer or Your Coworkers
Similarly, if you use your social media to badmouth your boss or your co-workers, don’t be surprised if it comes back to haunt you. Expression of a general opinion, as opposed to insults about an individual or group, can still land you in hot water. In 2017, James Damore was fired from Google after he wrote an internal memo that argued women are less equipped to be software engineers due to biological differences inherent to their gender. The NLRB ruled his “statements regarding biological differences between the sexes were so harmful, discriminatory, and disruptive as to be unprotected [speech].”
3) Posting Derogatory or Controversial Comments
Even executives have fallen victim to this mistake. For example, just five days after she became the interim CEO of USA Gymnastics, Mary Bono was forced to resign after an old tweet resurfaced in which she criticized Nike’s endorsement of Colin Kaepernick, who famously refused to stand for the National Anthem. Unless your job specifically calls for sharing your views on hot-button issues (politics, religion, race, etc.), it’s best to keep your opinions off the internet.
4) Celebrating Violence
On a related note, steer clear of social media posts that could be interpreted as a celebration of violence or crime. For example, there’s no reason to post, retweet, or even “like” Instagram memes that make jokes about doing drugs.
5) Posting Sensitive or Private Information
In the age of camera phones, think twice before you post photos for all the world to see. For example, in 2017 an employee of an assisted living facility in Michigan was fired after they posted a Snapchat photo of a resident without the resident’s consent. While this employer had an explicit policy against photographing residents, employees should refrain from taking and posting photos of customers or clients regardless of whether their employment handbook expressly forbids it.
If you have any questions related to social media, or any other aspect of employment law, contact Thatcher Law Firm at 301-441-1400.