Employees should be careful when combining personal social media and their job. It is a smart idea to keep personal social media and the workplace separate.
Social media allows people to connect with others as never before. Sites like LinkedIn help professionals looking to expand their business networks. Other social media sites like Facebook connect individuals on a personal level. On Facebook, individuals share personal photos, thoughts, and links with their networks.
It is good to be friends with co-workers in real life, and it is just fine to be Facebook friends with people at work. However, Facebook posts are not private. Other people can forward posts to people outside of a group of friends.
A Facebook friend could show a post to anyone in person, including work colleagues who might be subject of an objectionable post.
Facebook mistakes can cost employees their job or can get them sued. Below are some examples of Facebook mistakes to avoid in the workplace.
1. Facebook posts about a boss
Don’t make negative Facebook posts about a boss or supervisor.
Yes, we have a right to free speech in Canada. And no, there is probably nothing illegal about making a negative comment about a boss online (unless it’s defamatory).
However, that doesn’t stop a boss from somehow seeing a negative Facebook post. A boss could then use this offensive post as the unspoken reason for terminating an employee.
2. Facebook posts about co-workers – Online workplace bullying
Don’t make negative Facebook posts about a co-worker.
It doesn’t matter whether or not you are Facebook friends with that co-worker. The comments could get back to the co-worker or management, and could result in a firing. Employees sometimes make Facebook posts or comments about another co-worker and sometimes those comments are negative. They could be meant as a joke, but the co-worker doesn’t appreciate the humour.
In these circumstances, a co-worker could report or show the Facebook posts to management. Sometimes, management’s response is to fire the employee. There have even been cases where the employee is fired for just cause without any severance.
Workplace bullying is a hot topic these days. In some circumstances Facebook can be considered bullying.
Avoid making negative comments or borderline jokes about co-workers on Facebook.
3. Facebook posts about the company after dismissal
Don’t make derogatory or defamatory comments about a company after a dismissal.
It is normal to feel upset after being fired. Be aware that venting about a company online can have negative consequences.
On rare occasions, employees can get sued for defamation by their former employer. Other times, potential new employers may view posts, and decide that an employee is a risk as a new hire.
The best policy after a dismissal is to avoid negative Facebook posts about a company.
4. Party photos while on work leave
Don’t post party photos when you call in sick, or are on some other form of work leave.
Employees sometimes call in sick to make an extra-long weekend. It’s logical the employees shouldn’t post party or vacation photos on Facebook when they should have been at work, but this happens more often than you might think.
Whether or not the work absence is justified, a boss or management might somehow see these posts. This can cause management to question the employee’s honesty and integrity and could result in discipline or dismissal.
5. Embarrassing Facebook Photos from your Past
Don’t let a company see your old embarrassing photos.
Employers are not supposed to look at an individual’s Facebook page as part of the hiring process. However, it is naïve to think that this doesn’t happen.
Assume that human resources at a potential employer will see your public Facebook page. Assume that a potential employer may even gain access to Facebook posts that are visible only to your friends.
Employees may want to search old Facebook posts for any content that shows drug use, nudity, or other potentially objectionable behavior. Employees may want to consider deleting these types of posts to make sure a potential employer doesn’t see them.
Some people keep Facebook and work completely separate, and don’t become Facebook friends with co-workers. This is an extreme step.
However, keep in mind that the Facebook and work worlds may collide. If they do, it is best to have a Facebook that won’t negatively impact employment. The same is true of any other online presence you may have, including Twitter.
If you are having a workplace problem with Facebook posts, contact the writer, Jonas McKay, or any of the HHBG Lawyers at 604.696.0556 to schedule an appointment.