The use of social media to stay connected to people is transforming the world of the 21st century. Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn and a thousand other web 2.0 platforms have made it easier than ever to share aspects of our lives with friends at the touch of a button. But like any useful technology, social media can have a hugely disruptive effect on our working lives. Using social media at work can be a dicey affair. It often violates employer’s express policy regarding internet use. No matter what, you should be prepared for the possibility of your employer seeing your posts and pictures.
Posting your life online can have serious consequences for your career. The ease and informality of web platforms make it disarmingly easy to share your rant about having to work late for an ungrateful boss or post pictures of yourself at the ballpark on a day you called in sick. There is no privacy on the web. What you share on social media sites becomes available to the whole world. Insulting your boss or company might feel like a great way to blow off steam, but it can have serious repercussions. The National Labor Relations Board recently filed a complaint against an ambulance management company after they terminated an employee for making disparaging remarks about her boss on her Facebook page. They argued that the status update counted as protected speech and that the discharge of the EMT in question was a wrongful termination. While that initial case settled without setting precedent, the prevalence of similar stories means that this will continue to be an important issue.
Employers can face liability under federal, state or local law for using any of the information they find on a pre-employment Google search regarding a potential employee’s protected class status during the hiring decision. They cannot use information about the prospective worker’s race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation or disability as a factor. The ubiquity of social media platforms makes this information readily available to employers, and it is not always clear how these pre-employment searches bear on the hiring. A Los Angeles employment lawyer can assess your case and determine if you were not hired because a search engine revealed subjects that are considered off limits for employers to inquire about directly.
If you believe your employer fired you because of a social media mistake or failed to hire you because of what they learned on Facebook, contact a Los Angeles employment attorney as soon as possible for an in-depth consultation.