ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Many people use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and other social media platforms to communicate, and sometimes they will post negative comments about their workplace in order to vent steam.
But, can your employer fire you if you post a negative opinion about the workplace on social media?
In the U.S., the First Amendment of the Constitution protects citizens from the government interfering with speech, but employers have power to fire a worker for any lawful reason.
Employers have a right to demand your attention while you are on the clock, so there are risks to posting anything on your personal social media account during working hours, according to Bernabei & Kabat attorneys.
Legal experts say an employer may have less of an interest in what you say on social media outside of working hours, but may still discipline you for posts, even if they are “private.”
In a now infamous case, a woman named Justine Sacco made a careless tweet while on vacation, saying “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” Her employer, a PR firm, fired her on the grounds that the tweet was offensive.
“To me, it was so insane of a comment for anyone to make,” she later said. “I thought there was no way that anyone could possibly think it was literal.”
U.S. law does offer some protections for employees who are critical of workplace culture, if they are speaking truthfully about such matters like harassment or unsafe working conditions; comments that indicate and interest in joining a union; messages to co-workers suggesting they get a lawyer; or demographic information including race, sex, age, or religious affiliation.
According to Career Builder, 70% of employers check social media accounts to screen candidates before they are hired. And, potential employers are not required to tell prospective employees that it was an analysis of their social media accounts that led to them being passed over for the job.