Social media has grown to become an accepted business practice. Since social media worldview is evolving, the practice does not have standard practices like human resource management. A problematic area is the action of employees on social media. On the other hand, employers have certain responsibilities towards their employees. These concerns are regarding employer and employee ethics. Both employers and employees have certain obligations towards each other. This is even more relevant if the case relates to negative publicity.
These boundaries related to speech and social media policies. The challenges can occur from the nature of the content. There are also privacy issues and time-related issues when employees are on company time or at home. At times, employees use their own devices to post content, and if the content is sensitive, it is a source of concern. Binder (2019) elaborates on the actions of employees and employers for social media actions. Employees could face disciplinary actions for their posts for private messages posted during their off time. On the other hand, Lam (2016) explains the main concerns for employers are:
- Infringement on personal privacy
- Interference with employee rights
The main finding is that social media has blurred the lines between work and private lives. As more stories emerge, new case laws are likely to evolve regarding the case for employment. The main challenges arise due to the lack of rules or standards for engagement on social media.
One of the stories is regarding the professor at the University of Tampa, Kenneth Storey. The professor got fired for commenting on Twitter, that the victims of Hurricane Harvey were suffering from the karma associated with voting Republican (Bell, 2018). Even though the professor had deleted the tweet, the message had gone viral.
Similarly, there are issues for employers on when they can or they cannot fire an employee for their actions on social media. This story is about Adrianne Duane, who had posted two-star reviews for his employer on the review site Glassdoor (O’Connor, 2019). Though the ruling was in favor of the employer, the situation shows how legal problems can arise for employers. For employers, the issue can get more problematic if the employees are part of a union as explained.
Thus, the cases show that social media posts can get problematic for employees as well as employers. Since there are no clear rules for engagement on social media, the role of intermediaries is becoming more common. Both employees and employers can take up the matter with counsel for review and guidance.
Employees can get into trouble for their actions or posts on social media, especially when the posts do not portray the employer in a good light. Employers could fire employees for posting negative information about the firm, but there are other possibilities, including getting countersued, for their actions. Counsel and intermediaries can help resolve the situation effectively, by considering the motivations of the parties involved.