Facebook has quickly grown into more than just a social media website, in many ways it has become a way of life and a lifeline of sorts. With over a billion users, the site has seen its fair share of inappropriate comments, pictures and status updates. As more and more of our lives move online, many people are beginning to wonder if the line between the online world and our real lives have blurred. The simple answer is yes. According to a recent report about 33% of divorce proceedings include the word “Facebook” in them, and over 50% of companies admit to checking out the social media feeds of prospective hires before they extend a job offer. The buck doesn’t stop there, either. Many companies monitor Facebook feeds and they can and do utilize the material they see online to discipline or even fire current employees.
People Who Have Been Fired For Facebook Comments
Employees can terminate “at will” employees for a variety of reasons, and that includes what they post on Facebook. More than a few people have been asked to leave a company after disparaging remarks about the company or clients on Facebook. In fact, Virgin Airlines took disciplinary actions against 13 employees after they took part in a Facebook post that insulted passengers and suggested the airline had less-than-stellar safety standards.
An employee at a pizza joint was fired after posting about “cheap” customers who stayed passed closing and left a bad tip. Four employees were fired from a non-profit after a Facebook thread called out a fellow co-worker and criticized the clientele they served.
A teacher came under fire from her boss and was asked to resign after racy pictures of her appeared no her Facebook feed. The teacher, however, is appealing the decision and suing the school she worked for, claiming the pictures and her private Facebook page do not interfere with her ability to do her job.
Is Firing Over Facebook Legal?
Many people assume that they are protected under the first amendment when they take to Facebook, but that is not the case. The first amendment protects the freedom of speech against government interference. So, you can say you think the government is doing a poor job at budgeting taxpayers money wherever and whenever you feel the urge, however, the private sector is a different story. Companies are completely within their rights to fire an employee they feel is poorly representing the company.
In the case of the non-profit incident calling out a co-worker, whether face-to-face or online is considered harassment. Whenever an online forum is used for the purpose of harassing another individual a person can be fired because of workplace harassment and safety regulations.
These are not the only reasons people are fired because of what they post on Facebook. Every private company has the right to fire an employee, any employee, they feel is reflecting poorly on the company, as it could be considered potentially disparaging to the company. Just like you could get fired for showing up late on a regular basis, or being rude to customers in the retail sector, you can be fired for making remarks with a similar tone on Facebook, or any other social media site for that matter.
While many “Facebook firings” are perfectly legal, there have been a slew of individuals who have fought their terminations. Several cases have gone before judges, many of those fired claiming that their private pages do not interfere with their job performances.