Whether you use social media websites like Facebook or you keep a personal blog on the Internet, an employer or co-worker is bound to find your web presence at some point. It's wise to be careful about the things you write online. In fact, some bloggers and social media users have been fired for the things they have posted online. Is this legal? Read on to find out.
The First Amendment Does Not Apply to Employment
Yes, Americans do have the right to free speech as granted by the First Amendment in the U.S. Constitution. The problem is that this amendment applies only to the government, not a private business. Private employers have the right to fire an employee based on something he or she has said online, especially if it may bring a bad reputation to the company in question. Of course, there are a few exceptions.
What Protections Are Available For Bloggers?
If you live in a handful of states, the law may prohibit your employer from firing you for activities that you pursue when you are off the clock, so long as these activities do not include breaking the law.
Some states have protections for those expressing political views online. Washington, DC, California and New York have these laws. These states also protect those running for office and fundraising for politicians.
If your blog specifically points out an instance of workplace discrimination, harassment, or other illegal activity, you may be protected from disciplinary action. Retaliation is prohibited by the law when it comes to firing, adjusting pay, promoting and other employment conditions.
Tips for Blogging & Maintaining Employment
- Make sure that you are not participating in harassment. This includes making fun of co-workers, possibly even putting up pictures. The same may apply to customers and clients that come in to your work.
- Refrain from making statements that others would consider to be bigoted (i.e. racist or sexist). These statements may reflect poorly on your employer.
- Make sure you are not revealing company secrets. Revealing information that may help competitors or prevent sales may damage your employer's standing.
When it all comes down to it, you may find that hiring a lawyer is the best way to fight back. Your livelihood does not have to depend on whether or not you have a blog, so long as you are doing so in a way that is legal and not against your employer's code of conduct.
For more information about local attorneys, contact a company like Metropolitan Lawyer Referral Service Inc.Share