Facebook Can Get You Fired, but it’s Not Always Legal. Or is it?

Social Media Week

Social Media Week is a leading news platform and worldwide conference that curates and shares the best ideas and insights into social media and technology's impact on business, society, and culture.

There are always new stories of individuals getting fired from their places of employment due to their social networking activity. But Josh Eidelson over at Slate found a particularly poignant instance of Facebook-related termination.

When Mariana Cole-Rivera posted a Facebook message about her coworker at Hispanics United of Buffalo, it got her in a heap of trouble. “Lydia Cruz, a coworker feels that we don’t help our clients enough at HUB. I about had it! My fellow coworkers how do you feel?” wrote Cole-Rivera. Fellow coworkers responded to the thread. Three days later Cole-Rivera no less than five of her co-workers were fired.

Cole-Rivera and company then took their case to the National Labor Relations Board. They won, but Hispanicus United of Buffalo, Inc. is now appealing the decision.

The back and forth is enough to make your head spin, but the conclusion is whether or not a line was crossed in either party. If Cole-Rivera was at the water cooler instead of on Facebook, would she still have been fired? Does HUB even have the right to fire based on “harassment” posted on the Internet? How far will all of this go?

The reality is, no one knows. This isn’t the first Facebook-related court case and it won’t be the last. It doesn’t matter who was at fault, but there are no lines drawn in the sand as to the “right thing.” The question now isn’t “can you be fired for what you posted on Facebook?” but rather whether or not it’s fair to do so.

Want to write for Social Media Week?

We're looking for individuals around the globe to contribute articles on marketing, media, technology, and more.