Skip to main content

Social Voyeur, When Social Media Goes Wrong


Q:  Dear Workplace Wonda, can an employee get disciplined for posting something on their personal social media sites that might be deemed inappropriate by their employer?

Signed, 

Social Voyeur


A:  Dear Social Voyeur, 

My answer to your question is it depends

Wow, that is exactly how a lawyer would answer this question.  Could Workplace Wonda be the Elle Woods of Human Resources?   I do enjoy small dogs, fashion, and can do a mean “bend and snap.”   In that case, let me continue with my argument that it depends

Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Snap Chat, Instagram, LinkedIn and many more social media platforms have grown out of the need to connect, both personally and professionally.    My first “social” experience was with Facebook.  I joined to “spy,” I mean, to “follow” my teen daughter after I found out she created a “profile” online.   Strangely, as soon as I got on, she got off.  Apparently, nothing makes something suddenly uncool quicker than a parent sending a “friend” request to their teen on Facebook! 

There is something about social media that makes people think it is their own free space to say and do whatever they want without judgement, backlash, or consequences.  When I first got onto Facebook, I thought it would be funny to post photos of Mr. Workplace Wonda sleeping.  It sounds boring, but this man falls asleep in the middle of an argument so I got some amazing shots of him- sleeping on the couch with his mouth open, sleeping on the beach with his mouth open, sleeping with our dogs with his mouth open, sleeping sitting up with his mouth open, and much more.  All was going well, at his expense, without his knowledge (he doesn’t do Facebook) until family and friends started teasing him about the latest sleeping photo. 

Thankfully, Mr. Workplace Wonda has a good sense of humor and posting his photo without consent didn’t have any long-term consequences.  Remember, he falls asleep in the middle of an argument so I knew any yelling would be short-lived!  This isn’t always the case.  Last year, a model thought it would be funny to post a naked photo of a 70-year-old woman in the gym lockers room and post it to her Snap Chat account with the caption, “If I can’t unsee this then you can’t either.”  The immediate backlash of her body shaming resulted in invasion of privacy charges and loss of a radio gig and I’m sure many other future opportunities. 

With 3.5 billion social media users world-wide, there is little doubt that what you post on social media could get back to your employer.  Never before have employers been privy to employee’s personal views, affiliations, and activities outside of the workplace.    Just ask Rosanne Barr.   When she tweeted a racist remark about Valerie Jarrett, a former senior adviser to Barack Obama, she was fired and then killed off her own show!   So, unless you are the leader of the free world, your tweets or other social media posts can be used against you, particularly; if they expose confidential trade secrets, discriminate, harass, or tarnish a companies’ reputation.

What is protected?  According to the National Labor Relations Board, employees have the right to engage in “concerted activities.”  That’s where the depends comes into play.  Employees do have the right to talk about their jobs, even if they are complaining about their pay, supervisor, or working conditions as long as it is defined as “concerted” and not “personal gripes.”   For example, employees could be protected even if they are using profanities when discussing working conditions they consider unfair and other employees are commenting in agreement.  If an employee states their supervisor is a know-it-all, dumb dumb with a face only a mother could love, now we are getting personal and that could get an employee in deep poo. 

California went a step further to protect employee rights and passed a law prohibiting employers from requiring applicants or employees access to their personal social media sites.  Do I believe this successfully prevents employers from learning what employees are posting?  Nope.  That would be like saying gossip doesn’t exist.  So, if you don’t want your boss to know you pray to the porcelain gods each weekend and occasionally lose at strip poker, don’t document your partying on social media.   Stick to those Throwback Thursday photos from the 1980's or those adorable videos of dogs playing with kittens.  Regardless of what you post, keep in mind that whatever you share or post could have long-term effect on your reputation.

Signed,

Workplace Wonda


Throwback Thursday ala 1992 Photo-No Workplace Wonda wasn't in a Twisted Sister video and no, that is not the real Dudley Moore.

Comments

  1. Love it!

    Th picture is rad too!

    ReplyDelete
  2. OMG Jeana! Great picture and great information. Definitely something we can pass on to our clients.

    Thank you.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

HR 2022- More of the Same or New to the Game

 

Laughter IS the Best Medicine and I Can Prove It

  "There is little success where there is little laughter."- Andrew Carnegie How many times have you heard the saying, “laughter is the best medicine?”  This is a metaphor used over and over again when describing the benefits of laughter.   But guess what?  It’s true—and science backs it up.  In fact, research shows that laughter releases the brain chemical serotonin (a mood stabilizer often lacking in those of us who suffer from anxiety and depression) and endorphins (the feel-chemical in our brain that responds to pain and stress.)  Laughter increases our heart rate, burns calories, improves our focus and reduces the negative effects that stress has on our body and mind. I don’t remember when “joking around” became the norm for me.  Believe it or not, I was an incredibly shy young girl.  Raised with all brothers, I did have to develop different types of defense mechanisms and teasing and joking became one of them.  There was something powerful about laughing my way out of s

Happy Mother's Day- Good Moms Let You Lick the Beaters

“Ma… Mommy… Mum… Mother… Madre…,” my son rattles off—just in case I forgot my lot in life.    “Yes, Master Mason, what can I have the pleasure of doing for you today?” I mom castically respond. “Do you know where my keys are?” he asks.   I state the obvious, “Did you look?” “Ya, but you can find anything,” he states.   “Can you just help me?”   After asking him where he last saw them and backtracking his steps, his keys were found within minutes in his discarded jeans from the night before. “See mom, you can find anything!” he smiles as he grabs his keys and saunters away. I stand there for a moment with hands on my hips—like us moms like to do—in silent recognition that I was duped again by the child I chose to give life to. In celebration of Mother’s Day, I’d like to dedicate this article to all the moms out there “who can find anything!”   When we think of moms, we think of nurturer, supporter, caretaker, housecleaner, cook, nurse, and referee—among many other job