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Law Offices of Dan A. Atkerson

Employment Discrimination and Social Media Accounts

By Dan Atkerson on August 23, 2018

Accepting friend request on social mediaToday it seems like most people have some social media presence online. Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Medium, Tumblr, and Snapchat allow us to interact, connect, and reconnect with people all over the globe. With so much out there on the internet, there are plenty of risks to consider. This includes employment discrimination based on your social media posts.

The Dallas, TX legal team at the Law Offices of Dan A. Atkerson would like to consider the issues surrounding employer discrimination and social media accounts. This will give you some indication of what you can do to cultivate a smarter and more secure social media presence, and what to do if your employer oversteps their bounds.

Personal and Business Social Media Accounts

Many people maintain two social media presences: a professional or business presence, and a personal presence.

The professional accounts are for all business, work, and networking purposes. This is the social media account on which only highly curated posts appear, all of which pertain to your vocation.

The personal account is for all other purposes, such as interacting with friends and family, sharing personal matters, and interacting with others online. This personal account tends to not include professional talk in a curated capacity.

Are My Personal Social Media Accounts Protected from Employer Monitoring?

Not necessarily.

As a person’s internet presence becomes more and more a part of public life, private social media accounts can be monitored by employers. If content is offensive or criminal in nature, it could be used as grounds for termination. A person who uses racial slurs online or engages in harassment of others over their sexual orientation or gender may be terminated by a company if such employee actions would reflect poorly on the company. Similarly, an employee who gives out trade secrets or breaks their company’s NDA over social media may be terminated or at least disciplined over these actions since their social media posts impacted the employer/company.

Sometimes seemingly innocuous social media posts result in some form of employer discrimination, however. These kinds of actions cannot be tolerated.

Examples of Discrimination Over Social Media Accounts

There are many examples of employer discrimination based on social media. This may include some of the following examples:

  • If an LGBTQ employee has a personal post about their same-sex partner or other matters related to their sexual orientation, an employer or fellow employees could engage in workplace discrimination over this person’s sexuality
  • If an employee posts something about a religious holiday, employers or employees could engage in targeted harassment over this employee’s belief
  • If an employee posts something about living with a physical disability, this may cause some employers or fellow employers to engage in various forms of harassment or discrimination

None of the above examples of discrimination are acceptable.

Ways to Safeguard Your Social Media Account

You may want to consider making your personal social media accounts private. This helps you determine who can access your accounts, and whether or not certain posts are visible to others.

Another good rule is to think twice before you post. If there is any hesitation about wanting to post something, wait a few minutes and determine if you really need that to appear on social media.

Discuss Potential Legal Problems with an Attorney

Any harassment, retaliation, or other negative consequences surrounding your social media presence may be grounds for legal action. By discussing your situation with a lawyer, we can figure out if you have a case of workplace discrimination or employer retaliation on your hands.

The laws about life on social media are still being written, so do not feel afraid to reach out to an attorney about these matters. You could have a case and not even realize it.

Contact Our team of Attorneys

For more information about your legal rights and options following a case of wrongful termination, we encourage you to contact the Law Offices of Dan A. Atkerson. You can also reach our practice by phone at (214) 383-3606. Our lawyers are here for you, and will offer strong, compassionate legal advice.

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