With an increasing number of employers researching job candidates on social media, people have started to wonder about their social media activity and the security of their jobs. In fact, some companies have even taken an increasingly strict stance regarding what is acceptable for their employees to post on social media. If you've been terminated for a social media post, you may wonder if that termination is legal. Here's what you need to know.
Free Speech Doesn't Apply
For many people, situations like this type of termination can raise questions about infringement on the right to free speech. Unfortunately, freedom of speech does not apply in this case. Frequently misunderstood, freedom of speech is designed to prevent the government from passing laws that dictate what you can and cannot publicly say.
Unfortunately, freedom of speech does not protect you in private or civil situations. Legally, your employer is not violating any free speech regulations if they terminate you for something that you published online.
At-Will Employment Complicates Matters
If your employer has set a series of guidelines related to acceptable social media use, and you are terminated for posting something on your personal profile on your own time, you might still think that it is wrongful termination.
The fact is that many states have what is known as an "employment-at-will" law. This law means that your employer is free to terminate you at any time and for any reason. Incidentally, it also means that you are free to terminate your employment at any time and for any reason. This isn't the case with contractual employment, but in an at-will situation, you may not be able to claim wrongful termination in a case like this.
Certain Posts Might Be Protected
Despite the fact that you don't have free speech protection and at-will employment means that your employer could, in fact, terminate you for a social media post, there are certain types of posts that may still be protected according to labor laws.
For example, any posts about your job or company that would otherwise be protected under the Whistleblower Protection Act could be protected, and therefore your termination could be wrongful.
In order to determine if you were rightfully terminated for your social media activity, you should talk with an employment lawyer near you today. He or she can help you evaluate the situation and see if you have a case against your employer for wrongful termination.