You're Fired! When personal becomes public and punishable
From just plain tone-deaf to outright reprehensible, an inappropriate social media post can get you fired … even if it's on your personal account.
The reality is, personal doesn't mean private, and it isn't accepted as separate. After all, whether you're at home or at work, you are still one person. This means it is harder than ever to draw a distinct line between your various life roles.
Private is not private
If you're not inclined to have your boss show you the door, I suggest you accept a few simple facts. Let's start by repeating … personal is not private.
Speaking of private, you have no expectation of privacy while using company-provided devices or internet access. Anything you view, like, post or share while connected through your employer is, therefore, fair game for scrutiny.
On a related note, note that nothing is ever actually deleted from the internet.
Even if your employer doesn't have a documented social media policy, code of conduct or a morality clause in your contract, they can still terminate your "at-will" employment; especially if you insult your coworkers, clients or supervisors online.
If you share confidential or proprietary information accidentally or intentionally you can expect to be looking for a new job soon after. It should go without saying that searching for a new job while actually at your job is a big no-no.
If you have access to your employer's social media accounts, I can't stress enough how important it is to build a virtual wall to reduce the possibility of accidentally cross-posting. Few things can get you fired quicker than an errant personal post randomly appearing on the official company account.
Essentially, anything that brings your employers reputation into disrepute can trigger disciplinary action. That applies even if you are not officially or directly representing your employer with the post.
It’s not allowed
Case in point: You're in your back yard with friends and yell "fire" as the punchline to a joke; everyone laughs. You're in a crowded theatre with friends and yell "fire" for everyone to hear; you get arrested. It's all about context really.
You do have an absolute right to share your opinion. However, that right doesn't mean you can post anything at all.
Just in case it's not intuitive, the list of things not to post on your personal or professional accounts include comments which are off colour, racist, sexist, obscene, pornographic, discriminatory, threatening, liable or generally inappropriate.
That long list doesn't include posts related to "concerted activity". In non-legal terms, employees are permitted to meet and discuss concerns about current working conditions or workplace problems, even if those discussions occur online. In such circumstances, they are protected from employer retribution.
In reality, employers may be held liable legally or in the court of public opinion for employee utterances even if posts appear in their personal digital accounts. Adding a disclaimer helps, but it's not a magic shield from scrutiny.
Want to share your opinion with your friends? Consider doing it the old fashion way, give them a call.