Warning: Social Media Can Bite Your Employees When They Least Expect It

By Eric B. Meyer

The list of employees who have lost their jobs because of social media mistakes, well, it’s long.

I’ll get you started with incidents here and here and here.

Whether it’s on or off the clock, being outspoken — to put it mildly — on social media, doesn’t end well often. But, most social media missteps that I read and blog about involve conscious decisions by employee to do dumb stuff on social media.

Except…

When a YouTube video gets you suspended

Did you hear the one about the young doctor whose viral YouTube video got her suspended?

No, it wasn’t anything that she filmed and posted. Rather, the Miami Herald reports that a neurology resident was placed on administrative leave after a video that someone took of her cursing at and attacking an Uber driver was posted to YouTube (it’s NSFW) and went viral — like 6.1 million views as I write this post.

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The following week, in an appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America, the young doctor took responsibility for her actions, calling that night the biggest mistake of her life.  Sadly, she and her family have also received hate mail and she has been a victim of many online threats.

From bad to worse

This puts into perspective that potentially losing a job, while a major concern, is but the tip of the iceberg in terms of how one bad night — one really bad night — can dramatically change the lives of one of your employees.

So, remind your employees that:

  1. Where the business is concerned, anything an employee says or does on social media, 24/7, can impact their job.
  2. Unintentional viral social media “stars” can lose their jobs, too.
  3. The Internet does not forget — most anything posted on social media can have lasting ramifications, both on one’s career prospects and personal life.
  4. While we all make really bad mistakes, avoid making your worst ones loudly and publicly, because you never know who’s going to be around to capture it.

This was originally published on Eric B. Meyer’s blog, The Employer Handbook.

You know that scientist in the action movie who has all the right answers if only the government would just pay attention? Eric B. Meyer, Esq. gets companies HR-compliant before the action sequence. Serving clients nationwide, Eric is a Partner at FisherBroyles, LLP, which is the largest full-service, cloud-based law firm in the world, with approximately 210 attorneys in 21 offices nationwide. Eric is also a volunteer EEOC mediator, a paid private mediator, and publisher of The Employer Handbook (www.TheEmployerHandbook.com), which is pretty much the best employment law blog ever. That, and he's been quoted in the British tabloids. #Bucketlist.

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2 Comments on “Warning: Social Media Can Bite Your Employees When They Least Expect It

  1. Yes, please…let’s continue to encourage employers to make decisions based on factors that have absolutely nothing to do with an employee’s ability to do their job and meet their goals. Sounds like a plan.

  2. Good reminders in this article. In an OfficeTeam survey (http://officeteam.rhi.mediaroom.com/2016-01-05-Social-Media-Mistakes-That-Could-Cost-You-The-Job), 45 percent of HR managers said writing negative or inappropriate comments is the most common social media mistake that takes job seekers out of the running for a position. Next up was posting or being tagged in questionable photos (35 percent). People need to keep in mind that keeping a professional online presence is important whether you’re looking for a job or not.

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