Sjoberg & Tebelius, P.A.</a>
                <div class=
Serving Minnesota & Western Wisconsin
651-315-8856

Terminating Employees Based on Online Conduct

sexting.jpgThere are countless online platforms where people can express themselves, from social media profiles to comment sections on news websites. Unfortunately, not everyone realizes just how much their online statements can affect their offline lives.

In recent months, there have been multiple headline-making stories regarding employee terminations arising from online statements and images, which often lead to wrongful termination claims. As such, it is crucial for Minnesota employers to understand how -- and if -- they can fire an employee for something they do or say online.

Reasons matter

Most employment relationships are at-will, which means employers can terminate the employee for any reason, or no reason at all. However, the reason behind the termination will matter if the employee files a wrongful termination lawsuit claiming the firing was unlawful.

Employees cannot be fired for participating in protected activity, like discussing poor working conditions or reporting sexual harassment. Terminations also cannot be retaliatory, or discriminatory based on a protected class.

However, if an employee says something on Facebook that his/her/their employer considers disloyal, or makes inappropriate comments using the company's Twitter account, then employers may be within their rights to terminate that employee.

Plenty of gray areas

That being said, the issue of wrongful termination is hardly black-and-white, and online activity adds a shade of gray. For instance, an article from Forbes describes how a termination based on online activity could cross the line from legitimate to wrongful.

In some cases, the issue could come down to whether other employees were involved in the discourse, or whether the behavior in which a person engaged in online damaged his/her/their company. 

Preventing disputes in the first place

Employers can prevent wrongful termination claims by having a written social media policy. These policies should provide clear, specific guidelines for employees in terms of affiliation with a company, unacceptable content, and the discussion of sensitive or confidential matters.

In the digital environment, it isn't always easy to know what real-world protections are in place. However, with legal guidance and a clear social media policy, employers and employees can both better understand their rights in these difficult situations.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
Client Testimonials

Client Testimonials

  1. “Thank you for providing personalized professional services to us during a time of grief and loss when family relationships were not the best. With an attorney on board to help manage legal matters, everyone had confidence that the best was being done. ”

    Read More…
  2. “Our estate plan was handled well. We never felt rushed and all details were fully explained. Sam is very professional, easy to talk to and experienced in all aspects of estate planning. He gave examples and explored alternatives for us to consider. Well done and thanks.”

    Read More…
  3. “I was given the name of the law firm by a family friend after helplessly pilfering through endless names on websites. I am grateful I called. I was connected with Dave Meier immediately and from the go, was treated with dignity, care and respect. Every visit to the firm was pleasant and professional. ”

    Read More…
  4. “We were highly impressed upon the level and capability of Sjoberg & Tebelius. They gently showed us that there was much more to achieving the Will in the correct format that will protect our children than the quick attempts we had made on our own. Great people to work with - achieving our desired results!”

    Read More…

Over 30-years of experience Serving Minnesota & Western Wisconsin

Sjoberg & Tebelius, P.A.

Woodbury Office
2145 Woodlane Drive
Suite 101
Woodbury, MN 55125

Fax: 651-738-0020
Map & Directions

Minneapolis Office
900 IDS Center (By Appointment Only)
Minneapolis, MN 55402

Toll Free: 888-892-7044
Phone: 651-315-8856
Fax: 651-738-0020
Map & Directions

Map