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Can I Get Fired for "Venting" About My Employer on Social Media?

Let’s face it; in today’s world, social media is practically unavoidable. The growing use of social networking websites has changed the way in which people communicate with one another. Unfortunately, this new paradigm can potentially lead to problems in the workplace. Most people do not think of social media as something which is “work related” and instead, think of it as “personal” place for communicating or sharing photos with friends. Some folks therefore make the mistake of “venting” about their job or employer to their social media “friends.” While such posts may provide a momentary sense of relief or satisfaction, they should be avoided because they can land the employee in hot water. While an employer’s social media practice can itself be illegal, an employee should avoid using social media as a forum for venting about their job or employer. Most businesses care deeply about their reputation, and may terminate the employee for negative comments and even resort to legal action for defamation.

  1. Privacy Settings

Social media is not as “private” as most people think. Some websites make it difficult for users to even locate, much less adjust privacy settings while others unilaterally adjust these settings through “updates.” Therefore, any user of social media should review, maintain, and manage their privacy settings at regular intervals. Moreover, it should be assumed that any information which is posted by an employee on social media can wind up in the hands of his/her employer, even if the employee later erases the information.

  1. The Proper Place and The Proper Time

If an employer’s conduct is so bad that the employee feels the need to complain, the complaint should be directed to the right person. Complaining to one’s supervisor or up the chain of command is almost always preferable to simply “venting” online. If an employer has a human resources department (“HR”), the employee should consider submitting a complaint to HR. Alternatively, a complaint can be made to the appropriate authorities. For example, a complaint about workplace safety can be made to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, while one about wage issues, such as meal and rest periods, can be directed to the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The information provided here is not legal advice. The Akopyan Law Firm does not provide legal advice unless and until it is formally retained, and an attorney client contract is signed. Each case is unique. The laws may or may not apply to your particular situation. This should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney licensed or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Some jurisdictions may have laws and regulations that differ substantially from one another. The Akopyan Law Firm does not provide legal services, or practice law outside of the State of California. You should always consult an attorney in your jurisdiction regarding any specific legal issue.

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