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Can Your Employer Fire You For Online Comments?

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More people are using social media sites to voice their displeasure about their employers. In some instances, employers have seen those messages and taken action against the employees. Whether or not that is legal is debatable and depends largely on the nature of the comments made. If you are worried that your online comments could result in termination, here is what you need to know.  

What Type of Comments Could Lead to Termination?

In many states, employers have the right to terminate their relationship with employees for comments that could impact the workplace. There are no set guidelines that employers can rely on to determine which comments should warrant termination, so employers are left to using their judgment to assess each situation.  

Online comments that are considered to be inflammatory and that could be harmful to the business are usually considered a reason to terminate a relationship with an employee. For instance, racist or sexist comments have resulted in job terminations in the past.  

Sharing confidential information about other employees, customers, or your employer could also land you in hot water. For instance, if you post a negative comment about a customer with a credit card receipt that shows his or her name, you could potentially face termination.  

What About Venting About Your Employer?

If you complain about your employer online, you are not alone. Many people do. However, what you say could put your job in jeopardy.  

Comments about the working conditions at your place of employment are considered to be protected speech. In other words, your employer cannot take action. For instance, if you complain about the lack of heat during the winter time, it is considered protected speech.  

Negative comments about co-workers and your supervisor do not necessarily fall under protected speech though. When you make negative comments about your co-workers and supervisor and they are shared, they could feel you are creating a hostile work environment. Since they are just as entitled as you are to work in a hostile-free work environment, your employer might take steps to terminate you.  

What If You Believe You Were Unfairly Terminated?

Employers do not always get it right. If you believe that your employer unfairly terminated you for comments made online, you can take action.  

One of the first steps you can take is to file a complaint with your state's Department of Labor. The agency can investigate the circumstances of your termination and determine if the employer was justified in its actions.  

In addition to taking this step, you need to talk to a civil rights attorney. He or she can help determine if your rights were violated and take action, such as a lawsuit, to help recover fair compensation.