Social Media at Work Got Me Fired

Social MediaSocial media access on your work computer is a no-no because very little good can become of it.  For employees doing research after getting reprimanded or discharged, looking backward is the name of the game.

On the other hand, if you are doing research to see if it is permissible or not, I am in favor of avoiding this conflict altogether.  In fact, avoid all log-in websites.  This includes:

  • Web browsers (Bing and Chrome accounts),
  • Third-party e-mail,
  • Facebook,
  • E-vites,
  • Personal bank accounts,
  • Fantasy sports,
  • Newspapers, and
  • Anything else.

Why?  Because what good will it do and why can’t you use your personal cell phone away from your workspace?  Nonetheless, let’s examine what an employee might expect when being fired for online issues.

Unemployment and Fired for Social Media Usage

Being fired for internet issues and seeking unemployment benefits is an unexplored area of law.  For the purposes of this section of my post, I will focus on using social media while working versus getting fired for words or expressions made using a social account.  In general,  there are a handful of quality arguments in favor of acquiring unemployment benefits:

  • Usage was permitted,
  • Other employees are doing the same,
  • Time used was limited or rare,
  • The employer failed at offering a warning,
  • Accessing an account was inadvertent, and
  • There was a good faith error.

There are many other reasons and each situation will be different.  Even better, positive results are achievable.

Evidence for Unemployment Cases Involving Social Media

When somebody contacts me about getting fired due to a social media issue, I like the idea of requesting a specific reason for the termination or discharge by using Minnesota statute 181.933.

Also, I like the idea of seeking a copy of one’s personnel file and the employer’s expressed policy on internet usage.

Fired for Nonwork Activities

For the camp of folks who get reprimanded or lose their job because of a social media post, again, this is a very new area of the law.  As a result, there isn’t necessarily a legal precedent workers and employees can turn to for support.

That said, I foresee people having an easier time with a case when a post is socially acceptable, unrelated to an occupational requirement, and avoids a conflict of interest or loyalty owed to an employer.  Again though, this type of situation is going to be different for every person and employer.

Social Media and Final Thoughts

Social media is a wonderful tool, but it can cause problems too.  Because I am seeing more and more of these types of situations, the lines are less blurry than years past.  But if given the chance, err on the side of being cautious.

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