Employment Law and Social Media: What You Need to Know
By Gregory Thyberg on July 08, 2020
Losing a job can be a huge setback, and sometimes employers overstep employment laws in firing an employee. When this happens, an employment law attorney can help protect workers’ rights in the event of wrongful termination.
With the prevalence of social media, it is becoming more common for workers to get fired for something they post on Facebook or other social media sites, leaving many to wonder what protections, if any, they have when posting about work on social media. Attorney Gregory Thyberg has the answers regarding employment law and social media in Sacramento, CA. We encourage you to schedule a consultation if you have been terminated over something you posted on social media.
At-Will Employment and Social Media
Employment in Sacramento, and all of California, is at-will. This means an employer can fire an employee at any time for any reason, or for no reason at all, as long as certain laws were not violated in the firing of the employee.
While it may seem like firing someone for social media activity is an employer's right, there are circumstances in which certain social media activity is protected, even in an at-will employment state.
Certain Social Media Activity Is Protected
Federal labor laws protect employees from being fired for certain activities on social media. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) provides protection to employees when they act together, in a concerted effort, to deal with work conditions. This provision may be applied to certain work-related conversations on social media, providing employees some level of protection when discussing work online.
However, not all work-related conversations are protected by the NLRA. Those that are protected need to demonstrate that they are part of a concerted effort to address work conditions.
For example, an employee may post a comment on Facebook asking her coworkers if staffing levels were sufficient to meet the demands of their job. Since this question aims to address workplace conditions, the employee who wrote the initial post and any other employees who provided comments would likely be protected by the NLRA.
What Isn't Protected?
The NLRA has some limitations to what is protected on social media. Employees who take to social media to complain about their job, employer, or other work-related issue as it concerns them alone, is not acting in a concerted effort but rather, as the NLRA puts it, voicing a personal gripe. Personal gripes are not protected under federal law.
In addition, employees who post or comment on social media sites as part of a concerted effort to address work conditions may lose protection under the NLRA if they disclose company trade secrets, act maliciously, or make threats of violence.
An Employment Law Attorney Can Help
Social media as it relates to employment is relatively new. Employment laws have evolved to address the rights of both the employee and the employer when it comes to the use of social media and how it can impact the workplace or a business.
When employees are fired for their actions on social media, it's important to consult an employment law attorney. An employment law attorney understands the nuances of employment law and social media and can help determine whether an employee's termination was lawful.
Contact Thyberg Law
If you believe you were unlawfully terminated from your job, employment law attorney Gregory Thyberg can help. Call our Sacramento office at (916) 204-9173 or contact us online to schedule your private consultation.