Can What You Post on Social Media Lead to Termination?

You’ve been warned for years by the media, professors, family, friends, and coworkers to be mindful of what you post on social media. Yet, many of us are still quick to freely share our opinions and what’s going on in our personal lives without much of a second thought. There have been cases where people have been fired from their jobs because of something they posted on social media. But can a post actually get you fired from your job?

The short answer is yes, some posts that you create on social media can lead to termination. However, there isn’t always a clear yes or no answer on what posts can get you fired.

Here are some types of social media posts that can lead to termination:

  • Social media posts that are racist or sexist can get you in trouble if your comments become associated with your employer. 

  • Posts that bad-mouth your employer, job, boss, or coworkers could lead to termination of an at-will employee. Speaking negatively about your clients or customers should always be avoided, as making disparaging comments about someone you do business with on social media can also get you fired.

  • Another quick way to job termination is violating your company’s policy. You should never share your company's private information on social media. Leaking things such as company updates/news, products, sales, and more is a reason for termination. 

  • Have you ever called in sick to work when you weren’t really sick? You should never, ever post on social media about playing hooky. If a coworker shares these posts with HR or your manager, it’s clear to them that you were being deceptive and you can be terminated for it.

What about your First Amendment Rights?

Many believe that the first amendment protects their freedom of speech on social media. The First Amendment protects you from the government defining what we can and cannot say. However, it does not protect you from your private employer.

There doesn’t always need to be a reason for termination over a post you make on social media. If you are an at-will employee, you could be let go without being provided any reason at all. A good practice is to ask your employer or human resources department about your company’s social media policy. Knowing what is expected of you from the start makes it much easier to navigate the waters on what is and isn’t acceptable on social media.

Also keep in mind future employers. If they search your name will they find photos of you doing dumb things while intoxicated, or constantly posting gym bathroom selfies? Despite later deletion, these posts are often still available to be found and employers do judge you for them.

Ultimately, you should always be conscious of what you are posting on your social media accounts. Think before you post and if you are hesitant about sharing something, don’t post it.