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What Can an Employer Legally Include in a Social Media Contract?

What Can an Employer Legally Include in a Social Media Contract?

Social media is a great way to keep in touch with family and friends, but there are times when it can interfere with a person’s employment. Employers have a great deal of authority over their workers, which can leave an employee fearful that they will lose their job. However, employers cannot treat their employees unfairly or violate their rights. When it comes to social media, workers sometimes wonder if their employer can dictate what they post or what they cannot post on different platforms. Below, our Ohio employment lawyer explains more.

Ohio Follows At-Will Employment Laws

Like all states throughout the country, Ohio follows at-will employment laws. Under these laws, employees have the right to quit their job at any time, while employers have the right to hire and fire employees for any reason or even for no reason at all. The at-will law allows an employer to fire a worker for their social media posts as long as the termination is not unlawful. 

When a worker has an employment contract, they are not considered an at-will employee. In these cases, employees should review their contract thoroughly to determine what it says is and is not allowed on social media.

What Activities are Protected on Social Media?

The National Labor Relations Board has outlined several protected activities on social media. Employees cannot be terminated by engaging in any of these protected activities. 

One protected activity is speaking with co-workers about the working conditions or policies. Employees can also criticize their employers without fear of retaliation. When employees are trying to improve their working conditions or wages, the law gives them the right to try and come together to make change occur. However, it is important to note that if employees are simply venting and not trying to effect change, the activity is not generally considered protected.

Another instance when employers cannot use social media posts to justify a wrongful termination is when the employer is discriminating against an employee based on their protected class. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act defines protected classes as age, disability, gender, race, religion, sex, pregnancy status, and more. For example, if an employee posted photos of themselves at an event celebrating their culture, their employer could not legally fire them for it.

When Can an Employee Be Fired for Social Media Posts?

All employees in the state should know that there are times when their social media posts can result in their employment termination. These instances include when an employee posts customer lists or trade secrets online and when an employee posts pictures that reflect poorly on them. For example, if an employee posts a picture of a drunken night out, the employer may rightfully argue that the employee does not represent the company well.

Our Employment Lawyers in Ohio Can Advise On Your Case

If your employer has taken action against you for posting on social media, it can be very confusing as to whether they were in their right to do so. At Marshall Forman & Schlein, our experienced Ohio employment lawyers can review your case and advise you on the law. If you suffered harm unnecessarily, we can also help you make it right. Call us now or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and learn more.

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