Company on the Hot Seat After Firing Worker for Facebook Post
Woman took to social media to complain about how she was treated
You feel like you’re getting the runaround from your boss, who you suspect doesn’t have a whole lot of respect for you anyway. You turn to social media to vent your frustration.
A coworker tells your boss about your Facebook post, and a few days later you find yourself out of a job.
The question is, was the company within its right to fire you?
A recent court decision sheds some light on this question, and how the lines between behavior on social media and the workplace are becoming increasingly more blurry.
Retaliated Against for Rant
A woman was rated “outstanding or above average” in all categories on her employment review. However, she was terminated a little more than a week later.
Her supervisor claimed that the woman was being fired because for performance problems, but the employee suspected something else was at play.
Not long before she was fired, the staffer had fallen in the parking lot. She filed a workers’ comp claim for her injury.
Her supervisor was upset about the claim, and she loudly complained to the employee about it. In fact, the supervisor was so angry about the claim that the woman suspected her boss had intentionally mishandled the paperwork.
She got on Facebook and wrote a post complaining about the situation. She also added that she felt she was being discriminated against because of her age.
Since some coworkers were also her Facebook friends, she suspected that news of her post may have gotten back to her supervisor.
The woman sued, alleging that she’d been fired in retaliation for her complaints.
The company attempted to get the case thrown out. It argued that the woman had been fired for performance reasons.
However, the supervisor sunk the company’s case. In a deposition, she admitted that the employee’s Facebook post played a part in the termination decision. She claimed that the woman’s posts made the other employees uncomfortable and created a feeling of hostility.
Because of that explanation, the court refused to throw out the case. In its opinion, it wrote that the supervisor’s testimony made it appear likely that the woman had been fired in order to keep deter her from taking further action about her complaints.
(The case discussed here is Brown v. Oakland County.)
What Employees Need to Know About Retaliation
Federal law protects employees from being retaliated against after complaining about discrimination at work.
Retaliatory activities may include termination, demotion, denied promotions or perks, undesirable transfers or schedule changes, or other things could be considered “adverse actions.”
Protected complaints may take many forms, including formal, written complaints, as well as verbal complaints that may occur in casual conversation. As this case shows, complaints made over social media may also count if they find their way back to company management.
If you believe you’ve been retaliated against for a work complaint, it’s a good idea to speak to an attorney.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (267) 273-1054 for a free consultation.