Can You Get Fired for Posting Your Political Opinions on Social Media?

Social media has served as a prominent tool for people to freely express their social and political opinions since the beginning of its time. Recently, more individuals are using their social media platforms to spread information and share their opinions on important political and social issues. Nevertheless, over the past few years, many have lost their jobs due to the content of their social media posts. For example, earlier this month, an employee who works for B&H was removed from his position after posting about his opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement on social media. The company gave a statement that although they understand it is the employee’s personal opinion, “it creates an unsafe and unjust workplace for the numerous Black, Indigenous, POC who work for the company.”

Laws On Social Media Use

Although the First Amendment prevents the government from passing laws that restrict free speech, it does not protect citizens from losing their jobs over social media posts. In most instances, employees are considered “at-will” which means they can be fired for any non-discriminatory reason or no reason. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), enforced by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB),  has established a set of laws that pertain to the rights employees and employers have when it comes to social media use. Additionally, states, including New York, have created their own laws that protect and/or restrict individuals from sharing on social media. 

The NLRA On Employees’ Use of Social Media  

Section 7 of the NLRA states that employees have “the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.”  However, an employer can determine whether certain conduct constitutes “concertedness and mutual aid or protection.” Due to this technicality, some employers, particularly those in the private-sector, reserve the right to regulate what their employees can post on personal online accounts. 

Anti-Discrimination Laws

Though employers have the freedom to determine which employee’s social media posts are grounds for firing, all employees must be treated equally and fairly. According to federal and New York State laws, online posts cannot be used as a means to fire an employee on the basis of their race, gender, age, or disability. Moreover, companies can also be in violation of federal and state laws if they penalize certain employees but not others who engaged in the same behavior. 

Seek Legal Assistance Today 

If you have experienced discrimination in the workplace, seek legal assistance from the Law Office of Christopher Q. Davis, located in New York City. Contact us today at (646) 430-7930 to schedule a free case evaluation and receive experienced legal counsel.