Can Your Employer Fire You For a Negative Social Media Post?

Joe: 106.7 WIZN. That is Steppenwolf of “Born To Be Wild.” Heard ZZ Top and “Cheap Sunglasses” before that. I’m Joe Vega here with you on your Wednesday Rockin’ Ride Home. Called my friend Ben Barry from Martin Harding & Mazzotti, because I have a legal question for him. Hello, Ben.

Ben: Joe, how are you?

Joe: Okay. So I was reading this article just recently about a gentleman, this is in Canada actually, who received a bottle of barbeque sauce and a wooden grill scraper from the company for Christmas. And then he tweeted, and I quote, “What kind of billion-dollar company gifts its employees barbeque sauce as a holiday gift?” And of course, someone in the human Resources department saw that tweet and this gentleman lost his job. So I guess my question is, is that legal?

Ben: In Canada, I don’t know. I’m not familiar with Canadian employment law. However, in the States, particularly New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, an employer would likely be able to terminate the employment of that individual really based on anything, because most employees are at-will employees. So, the employee can quit without consequence and the employer can fire them without consequence as long as it’s not for a reason that’s otherwise protected by statute. So in this particular case, this guy is kind of railing on his employer, not thankful for the gift he received, speaking of the employer in a bad light, they can very likely legally terminate him if that employment was in New York, Vermont, Massachusetts. So yeah, I think that you should, as an employee, think twice about posting something that is ill-fitting for your employer. And actually, I think a lot of companies nowadays actually have sort of a code of conduct for social media and what they would require of their employees, both while they’re on the clock and while they’re off of the clock in their public life, and what they’re posting. I’d be interested to know if this individual actually posted that while he was on the clock because that would also be additional…

Joe: Interesting point, yeah.

Ben: …layer of support for the termination.

Joe: Got you. So, not a good idea for me to bring up the digital camera that we got for Christmas a number of years ago. It sounds like a great gift, but Ben, everybody had smartphones at that point. It sat on my shelf for a long time. It never got used.

Ben: Well, maybe that had something to do with your performance review.

Joe: You know what? That sounds incredibly likely. All right. Ben Barry from Martin, Harding & Mazzotti. Thanks, Ben.

Ben: Thank you, Joe. Take care.

Joe: Remember you can call Ben at any time at Martin, Harding & Mazzotti at 1-800-LAW-1010 or go online to Mel Allen taking over from here. He’s got music from Joe Walsh and Metallica next.