Social Media and Termination of Employment

922 words | 4 page(s)

Social media offers employers a good look into the lives of people on social media. It provides evidence of misconduct in some cases and reveals inconsistencies between the positions of the employee and the interests of the employers. Therefore, social media is increasingly used to evaluate the suitability of employment and even terminate employment where the employee violates the guidelines of the employer or shows insubordination. People should not be fired because of posts on social media platforms unless there are existing guidelines stipulating what is to be posted on social media.

All people have the freedom of expressions guaranteed by the constitution (Volokh, 2015). The first amendment of the US constitution guarantees that all individuals are free to express their views and that the congress has no ability to amend the freedom of expression. Then implication is that it is not possible to take legal action against a person simply because they expressed themselves, regardless of the platform used to me the expression. Therefore, the legal issue depends on the classification of communication on social media, and classification as a form of expression means that it is illegal to fire a person because they expressed their views on the social media profiles (Volokh, 2015).

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Posting on social media is the equivalent of talking to friends. All the contacts, the ones who see the posts by a person on Facebook, are ‘friends’ (Volokh, 2015). Therefore, the discussions on social media are equivalent to the discussions between friends, where one is free to express their views without fearing the potential outcomes of the expressions in the workplace. However, Donald Trump recently fired an aid over the comments made by the aid on social media. The post, directed at president Obama, claimed that he was a “Socialist Marxist Islamo Fascist Nazi Appeaser” (Wofford, 2015). The problem with the phrase is not the attack on the president; it is the association of the world Islam with negativity. It appeals to the notion that Muslims are terrorists and enemies of the US. The action of firing the aid does not resonate with the other politicians because Sam Nunberg, a political advisor to Donald Trump, used the word “nigger” on a Facebook post and retained his job (Walker, 2015).

Here, the decision to terminate the employment of the aid is a direct violation of the rights of the fired employee because it was based on personal expression made by the aid. However, the issue has an interesting development because according to the National Labor Relations Act, the law protects some posts on Facebook while the employers are free to have policies against other acts on social media (The NLRB and Social Media). For example, employers cannot make policies that affect the ability of the employees to communicate freely about the working conditions. On the other hand, the employers can have policies that regulate the nature of personal posts because of the validity of the company image in the public.

In this regard, despite the protection of the right to privacy, posting on social media should consider the potential legal action of the employer, especially where the employer has a pre-existing policy about the public image of the working place and thus the nature of public appearances made by the employers. In this regard, if there is a policy to manage the employee conduct adapted by the Trump campaign team, then the team is within their rights to terminate the employment of a worker whose actions may paint a negative image of the employer. In fact, the sensitive nature of campaigns dictates that it is important to regulate what ht employers say on Facebook (Wofford, 2015).

In some cases, there are inconsistencies and exceptions in the law. For example, despite the necessity of the police having a warrant before they can search property and seize evidence, it is important to note than the searches are legal where the person allows the police to search the property. In the same way, where a person willingly applies for a post with an employer who regulates the nature of social media posts, it is acceptable that they lose their jobs if they fail top honor the agreement.

In this regard, it is not acceptable that people should lose their jobs because of the posts they make on Facebook. The case of the aid fired by trump is especially inconsistent because the aid was hired after making the post, creating the impression that the employer was not concerned about the nature of personal posts. The employment conduct policies only apply to posts made after commencement of employment. The campaign team had every right to be alarmed by the existence of a member with a negative public image where such an image is important in securing the votes of all people. However, it was wrong to dismiss the worker so long after the post.

Social media presents new problems to employers all over the world. The problems are related to the nature of public image projected y the workers and thus, creates a way for evaluation of personal lives and the effects of the lives on the employers. It is important to note that posts on social media are sometimes visible to the public, hence the damaging potential of these posts because they reflect a negative image of the employer. At the same time, posts on social media are personal and are an expression of opinion. Therefore, they should not be used to dismiss workers unless there is a prior employment agreement that directs the employee code of conduct.

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