Employees can be fired for their social media posts. In Florida, most employees are employed at will. At will employment means that you can be fired for any reason unless the reason violates federal or state laws.
Many people believe the First Amendment prohibits an employer from firing them because of their protected speech in social media posts. This is not the case. The First Amendment only protects government employees. If you do not work for a governmental employer, then you do not have any First Amendment protections.
So, you may be wondering, if the First Amendment does not protect you, what protection do you have? Here are a few exceptions to when employees can be fired for social media posts:
- Concerted Protected Activity—if you are a rank and file employee and your social media post engages other rank and file employees about concerns around working conditions at your place of employment, you are engaging in concerted activity. The National Labor Relations Act would prohibit a covered employer from firing you for such a post.
- Discrimination—Federal and state anti-discrimination laws may prohibit a covered employer from firing employees for a social media post based on protected characteristics, such as race, sex, sexual orientation, color, national origin, religion, age, disability or marital status. For example, if a person in a protected class is terminated for a social media post, but others outside the protected class who engaged in similar conduct are not fired, this may constitute unlawful discrimination.
- Retaliation—Federal and state anti-retaliation laws may also prohibit a covered employer from firing an employee if the social media post objected to or complained about discrimination occurring in the workplace or illegal activities of the employer. For more information on whistleblower protections, see our blog 10 Whistleblower Claims.
- Breach of Contract—Where an employee has a contract with the employer or is subject to a collective bargaining agreement (CBA), firing an employee for a social media post may be a breach of the employment agreement or the CBA.
Learn more about other exceptions to at-will employment in our blog: Examples of Wrongful Termination.