Can your employer fire you for what you post online?

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Posted by Legal Team On September 8, 2020

Social Media Wrongful Termination

You’ve probably heard enough about “cancel culture” to understand that there’s a very real risk that what you post online can come back to haunt you. Just the same, in the heat of the moment, you may still lose your cool and post something that other people find offensive.

The next thing you know, your post has gone viral and people are peeking into your life and calling you out where you live and work.

Can your employer fire you for whatever you said online? Maybe.

Living in California does offer you some protections that people in other states don’t have. The law prohibits your employer from firing you for “lawful off-duty conduct.” Even if whatever you posted online seems hateful or is hugely offensive to other people, it isn’t an offense that can get you fired — as long as you don’t cross any legal lines that might constitute a threat toward a particular target.

That protection only extends to what you do on your own time and on your own social media accounts, however. If you post an offensive missive on social media that runs counter to your employer’s values during your work time — even if you’re working remotely — your employer can terminate you.

Similarly, if you use the company’s email, chat system or message board to post something offensive, that can get you fired. You would also likely face employer discipline for offensive behavior on video chat, so don’t assume that working from home equals “being on your own time.”

If you are unfairly disciplined for a social media post, it may be time to talk to an attorney. A wrongful termination claim may help you move forward.