Lehman Johnson Law Firm helps you better understand your social media rights.
Social media is a great way to keep in touch with family and friends, but what you put on social media is out there for all the world to see. That being said, a prospective employer also has the right to see what you are posting and can hold that against your employment if what you’ve put out there is deemed undesirable.
Here is what Tennessee law has to say about this:
- Employers may not ask or require employees or applicants to disclose passwords to personal online accounts. Employers may not force employees or applicants to access personal online accounts in the presence of the employer or add the employer or an employment agency to their contact list.
- An online account is one that used exclusively for personal communications, including any online service where users may create, share or view content, including, emails, instant messages, text messages, blogs, podcasts, photos, videos, or user-created profiles.
- Employers may conduct investigations: when receiving specific information about activity on an employee’s personal online account, in order to ensure compliance with laws, regulations, and workplace misconduct rules; or when receiving specific information about the unauthorized transfer of the employer’s proprietary of financial data to a personal online account. During such investigations, employers may require employees to share content from a personal online account in order to make a factual determination.
Legal protection for employees who post online
- Concerted Activity Protections
- The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects employees’ rights to engage in protected concerted activity: joining together to discuss and try to improve the terms and conditions of their employment.
- Off-duty conduct laws
- A number of states have laws that prohibit employers from disciplining or firing employees for legal activities they pursue on their own time.
- Protections for political views
- In some states, disciplining an employee for a political post such as endorsing a candidate, could be illegal.
- Protections for “whistle-bloggers”
- An employee who raises concerns about safety hazards or illegal activity at work may be protected as a whistle-blower.
- Prohibitions for retaliation
- Many employment laws protect employees from retaliation for claiming that their rights have been violated if they complain about employment online.
Because this is a tricky area of law, you should consult with an attorney before firing an employee over a personal social media post.