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Checking an Employee’s Facebook or Twitter Account?

The question of whether an employer should check a worker’s social media account has become a divided issue without a clear answer. However, it is interesting to think about what others say about this matter. Is it a good management strategy? Is it a waste of time to even investigate people? Is it lawful to fire someone over a Twitter comment? Our Hoffman Estates attorneys look at this increasingly important issue and fill you in what many people are saying.

According to a 2013 CareerBuilder survey, nearly 40% of employers look at their worker’s social media sites, and a slightly higher percentage of employers say they have fired someone for a comment. Alternatively, only 19% hired someone because of their social media account. Clearly, a significant number of employers use social media to make personnel decisions.

What Is A Recent Example of A Social Media Firing?

A recent example involves Steven Salaita, who was to be a recent addition to the faculty at the University of Illinois. However, the university quickly annulled his position upon investigating his Twitter comments, which were often unabashedly derogatory of the Israeli people and their supporters.

What Do People Say About Checking Social Media Accounts?

Steven Salaita’s termination is just one example of many newsworthy social media firings. However, the debate over the effectiveness of it, or even the legality of it, is still on going. Here are some common opinions voiced by people who are either for or against social media prying:

  • Those in favor of checking employee’s comments:
    • A good method to tell if an employee is working or not
    • It’s a good way of telling if an employee is someone you’d want to hire/keep or not
    • Comments can sometimes damage a company’s reputation if an employee complains
  • Those opposed to social media investigation:
    • Unnecessary because people don’t often post about work
    • Comments don’t harm the business, and it is a waste of time to check the comments
    • Checking comments can turn into “witch hunts,” or possibly lead to wrongful termination

Unsure If An Employee Was Wrongfully Terminated?

The laws involving an employee’s social media comments and their employers is complicated. If you are unsure if you are within your legal right to terminate an employee or if you feel you were wrongfully terminated, please contact a Des Plaines employment lawyer.

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