Most people on social media assume that their posts, while not necessarily private, are beyond the access of their employers. Indeed, part of what makes social media so valuable is that users are able to express themselves and their beliefs freely and without fear. However, many employees over the last few years have learned the hard way that employers can often find ways to access their posts. But when a Texas employer finds something they don’t like on an employee’s social media account, can the employer actually take action based on the employee’s social media posts?
The answer, as is often the case with legal questions of this nature, is “it depends.” As a general matter, Texas is an at-will employment state, meaning that a Texas employer can terminate an employee for any reason at all, so long as it is not an illegal reason. Thus, if an employer does not like something that an employee posted on social media, the employer may be able to fire that employee over it.
Texas employers cannot discriminate, however. And if the post in question was expressing participation in or support of a protected group, the line of what the employer is permitted to do becomes blurry. That is because engaging in discriminatory employment practices regarding protected classes is illegal. In Texas, the classes that are protected by both state and federal anti-discrimination statutes are:
- national origin,
- age, and
- genetic information.
The question of whether an employer can fire an employee for their social media posts is still developing. However, courts have shown a willingness to stand up for employees who have voiced concerns or complaints about the working conditions and also for those who are attempting to form or organize a labor union.
In these cases, the question is whether the employee’s conduct was “concerted,” meaning that it was part of a joint effort among other employees. Individual employees who complain on their own about workplace conditions or those employees who use egregiously offensive or knowingly false information are not likely protected.
Have You Been Fired Based on Your Social Media Account?
If you have recently been fired or had some other adverse employment action taken against you based on your social media posts, your employer may have acted inappropriately. Rob Wiley, P.C. is a Dallas employment law firm that focuses on standing up for the rights of employees who have been treated unfairly by their employers. We handle Texas workplace discrimination cases, wage and hour disputes, FMLA issues, as well as other employment-related issues. To learn more, call 214-528-6500 to schedule a consultation to confidentially discuss your situation with one of our dedicated Dallas employment lawyers.
More Blog Posts:
ADA Guidelines Regarding Disclosing Disabilities During Interviews, Dallas Employment Lawyer Blog, June 29, 2018.
How a Texas Employee Can Prove a Case of Employment Discrimination, Dallas Employment Lawyer Blog, May 2, 2018.