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What kinds of social media posts can get you fired?

In today's world, the line between what's personal and private and what's public and available for the world to see gets blurred all the time, largely thanks to social media.

Many younger people use social media almost like an online diary, telling the world things that make older people cringe. While it has been said before, it bears repeating that a careless Facebook or Twitter post can get you fired.

To give you a better idea of what sort of things you need to remember about posting online (if you want to keep your job), here are some examples:

  • Don't skip work for "an emergency" and then post pictures of yourself relaxing by the pool or having fun on your ATV. Even if you aren't that foolish, remember that people around you have the power to post photos of you having a good time when you're supposed to be dealing with an emergency, and they can "tag" you and have it appear on your timeline.
  • If you're in the medical field, never post private information that hasn't been made public, even condolences. For example, if a public figure dies while on your shift, wait until there's been notification to the family and a public announcement before you rush to Facebook to express your own sentiments. Otherwise, you're violating patient privacy laws, which will most certainly end your job.
  • Never post disparaging comments about your co-workers, bosses or customers, especially with identifying information. While commentary that's designed to open a dialogue about working conditions is generally protected, talking about your feelings toward immigrant customers or the disabled, exposing the shopping habits of public figures or complaining about a lousy tip can all get you fired.
  • Don't discuss how bored you are on the job. It's not only potentially insensitive (like in the case of the nurse who wished someone would "code" so she'd be less bored), it tells your employer that you're not really all that self-motivated.

A good rule to remember before you post anything is "Would I want my employer to see this?" If not, don't post it.

On the other hand, if your post was legitimately protected speech, like discussing unsafe working conditions or problems with the hours, a retaliatory discharge could be the basis of a wrongful termination suit. If you have doubts, seek legal advice.

Source: People Celebrity, "20 Tales of Employees Who Were Fired Because of Social Media Posts," Lydia Price, accessed Jan. 04, 2018

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