#Fired: Post a tweet, lose your job

August 23, 2016 0 COMMENTS

Many people enjoy spouting off what they view as 140-character tidbits of wisdom on the social media platform Twitter. But recently several individuals have found themselves in trouble with their employers (read: former employers) for their tweets or other social media posts.  Tweet

One recent example was a loan officer from Michigan who crafted a racist tweet, not worth repeating here, following First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention. Twitter users saw the tweet and tracked down the home loan company the woman worked for. The result was a flood of tweets directed to the company’s Twitter profile calling their attention to the tweet and asking if the employee’s views represented the company’s values.

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Cooling hot political buttons

May 27, 2016 0 COMMENTS

During every political campaign, I am reminded of the notion that if we speak about our co-workers or subordinates in the manner in which the American voter speaks about political candidates, we should expect some remediation by our superiors or human resources. For example, if we question the legitimacy of an employee’s birth certificate, criticize an employee’s middle name because it is the same as the first name of a known terrorist, or question whether we are ready for a female boss or whether an applicant for employment is “too old,” we might notice an increase in administrative charges or lawsuits.  The Words Coming Out of My Mouth

Love him or hate him, Donald Trump’s election rhetoric, both in the news and in social media, has us wondering what he will say next. In the work world, human resources professionals and employment lawyers alike spend countless hours developing appropriate harassment/discrimination policies and training their workforces to prevent harassment in the workplace on the basis of any protected characteristic.

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Employment is short. Don’t have an affair.

September 08, 2015 2 COMMENTS

Imagine a guy, a married guy, more specifically an unhappily married guy, and even more specifically an unhappily married guy lacking a moral compass. The guy creates a discrete (ha!) profile on AshleyMadison.com, a dating website for married people whose tagline is “Life is Short. Have an Affair.” No need to prowl hotel bars at last call. Thanks to Ashley Madison, our guy can arrange an illicit rendezvous from the privacy of his laptop. shhhhh

Or not.

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Breaking Bad: Disciplining employees for off-duty conduct

October 06, 2014 1 COMMENTS

You can hardly get through your morning coffee these days without seeing another story about some athlete, model, or actor who abused his wife, trashed her Beverly Hills hotel room, or went all shutterstock_180348752Archie Bunker in a racist Twitter rampage. Usually, high-profile celebrities are bound by employment contracts that require strict adherence to an impeccable standard of personal conduct. But what can the average employer do if Walter White, the usually quiet and docile chemist with a spotless work history, decides to break bad over the weekend, uses his RV for a meth lab, and has his mug shot splashed all over the news? Like so many legal questions, the answer is “it depends.”

Generally, under the at-will doctrine, employees can be fired for any reason, or no reason at all, as long as the reason is not illegal. Unfortunately, deciphering whether a reason is “legal” or “illegal”  is not as clear as Walter’s blue crystal. Obviously, it is illegal to discipline or terminate an employee based on the employee’s race, religion, or sex, but most off-duty conduct lies somewhere in the gray area. Until recently, most employers did not give a second thought before disciplining an employee for off-duty criminal conduct, but the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has loudly condemned the practice. According to the EEOC, some racial minorities are disproportionately more likely to be arrested or convicted of criminal offenses than others, so the agency is critical of employment policies that universally disadvantage applicants or employees based on past criminal conduct.  As a result, the safest bet for disciplining employees for off-duty conduct is to focus on the job-related consequences of the behavior, rather than the behavior itself.

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