Williams: Should Your Social Media Posts Be Grounds for Termination

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Williams: Should Your Social Media Posts Be Grounds for Termination

By Brook Williams

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Have you ever scrolled through your Facebook feed and stumbled across one of your friend’s posts containing extremely vulgar language or profane pictures? Whether it be sexually explicit pictures of themselves and others or pictures of paraphernalia, there is a common etiquette that should be followed when using social media. People need to understand that what they post on any social media site could later lead to professional terminations. An investigation into social media profiles could be caused by work issues like blackmail, gossip or simply that companies don’t want to be linked to any unprofessional conduct done within their employee’s personal life.

Social media should be considered a privilege. It is common knowledge that what we post creates an image of ourselves that allows people to view us in certain ways that we may or may not like. With that simple fact in mind, social media users should be careful of what they post. Private account or not, there is always a way for someone to view your content. Whether you believe that it should or shouldn’t be grounds for termination, just remember that people viewing your profile will naturally create judgments about you. Those judgments, and what those viewers choose to do with them are out of your control.

If someone tags you in something on a social media platform and you don’t like it, either tell them to delete it or take the initiative to hide it from your profile. By being in control of your social media, you take some of the risks away, making it more difficult for people to dig up personal dirt that could harm your professionalism.

There is some question regarding cases like political disagreements between employees and their bosses that may lead to possible termination if voiced inappropriately. Under such circumstances, it is completely unfair for an employee to be fired for a difference of opinion. Bosses need to stay completely neutral and unbiased when it comes to political or religious standing with their employees. These sorts of differences in no way justify firing someone from their job.

One example of this was a teacher in 2010 who wrote about her students on her Facebook saying, “I hate their guts. They are all the devil’s spawn.” She continued by adding, about one student specifically, “I wld not throw a life jacket in for a million.” She later got fired and the case was taken to court. The judge decided that she shouldn’t have been fired due to the fact that it was her personal platform, to be used as she felt was appropriate, but the school still pushed back on her rehire.

Bosses have the right, just like everyone else, to view your profile and get an idea of who you are as a person. When hiring an individual, it is completely okay for others to make judgments about you based on your profile if it isn’t private. It’s even okay after you’ve been hired. These are all things social media users need to be cautious of. You should never post anything that could give yourself a bad reputation or that could reflect poorly on your place of employment because it might come back to bite you.

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