HOW DO I AVOID BEING FIRED
OR SCREENED OUT?
Kimberly O’Connor, J.D., Assistant Professor of OLS
Gordon Schmidt, PhD., Assistant Professor of OLS
• Sites that allow you to share user generated
content with others
• How many of you have a Facebook account?
• How many of you use it daily?
• How many of you are using it right now?
• What other sites do you use?
What you share on Facebook
• How many of you use the privacy
settings built in to Facebook?
• How do you restrict access?
• Our friends have a big impact
– Research by Burke et al. (2009) found that the first
two weeks on a site are crucial for your privacy
– In that period people look to friends’ behavior to
determine what is appropriate
Social Media and Work
• Do you think your employer should be able to
look at your social media posts?
• Do You think that First Amendment Freedom of
Speech protects all forms of speech, including
what is posted on-line?
• Social Media usage can have impact on people’s
• A number of firings and disciplining of workers
based on worker’s posts
• Example: Video: Is a “Like” Protected Speech?
• At – Will - An employee whose
employment is for an indefinite
duration and can be hired or fired at
the employer’s discretion.
• Union – A worker whose
wages, hours, and working conditions
are negotiated through a collective
• Public Employees – A
person who is employed in the public
sector and whose work is controlled by
governmental bodies, whether at the
federal, state, or local level.
Public Employees and Free Speech
• The First Amendment
states that Congress
shall make no
freedom of speech.
• For Public Employees
First Amendment rights
exist for matters of
“Public Concern” only.
Payne v. Barrow County School
• Georgia High School English Teacher, Ashley
Payne, posted pictures of her summertime
European vacation on her Facebook page. She also
posted a status update with the word
• Payne had her privacy settings set to “Private.” She
had no students as FB “Friends.”
• A Parent complained. The school corporation gave
her the ultimatum, resign or be fired. Payne
resigned and then filed suit.
• GA court held that her contract was up by the time
she had her day in court. Case was moot.
• Do you think this outcome was fair?
National Labor Relations Act – “NLRA.” Section 7 of
the NLRA gives employees the right to engage in
“concerted activities” for their “mutual aid and
“Protected Concerted Activity” includes two or more
employees acting together to address a collective
employee concern about work terms or conditions.
Employers cannot take action to restrain such activity.
• BMW Dealership held a sales event to
introduce a new BMW design.
• A salesman posted negative
comments, along with pictures of the
• Also, the salesman posted pictures and
comments about an accident at a Land
Rover dealership also owned by the
• The Salesman was discharged for
violation of the Dealership’s Courtesy
• NLRB held that the Land Rover posts
were not “protected concerted
activity” and by themselves enough to
affirm the termination.
• NLRB ordered employer to rescind or
modify the language of the Courtesy
Karl Knauz Motors, Inc., 358 NLRB No.
164 (Sep. 28, 2012).
Design Technology Group, LLC, 359
NLRB No. 96 (April 19, 2013).
• Three employees complained
about their Supervisor on
• Supervisor was informed of
posts by another employee
who also gave the supervisor
access. Employees terminated.
• NLRB held that the employees
comments were “protected
Posted negative comments about teen
pregnancy on a public blog. A complete
stranger (1,200 miles away) copied her
comments and sent them to the
employer she listed on her FB page.
Ulrich was fired.
Social Media and
• Student Teacher Stacy Snyder was in her last
semester of college at Millersville University
• She was assigned to student teach High
School English. She was warned not to share
social media with her students.
• Snyder had a MySpace page and told her
students about it. They accessed the page
and found pictures like her “Drunken Pirate”
• Millersville refused to give her a degree in
Education. She instead received a degree in
Selection: Who Is Potentially
• 45% to 91% of organizations look at applicant
social networking sites for screening purposes
• 23% of universities are doing so as well
• Some research even suggests this might be
useful- Kleumper et al (2009) estimated
applicants personality characteristics through
social media profile and they were found to
relate to actual performance on the job
• Great amount of potential information available
to recruiters through social media
• But is it accurate? Is it legal?
• Example: definition of binge drinking
• If A Facebook picture shows you and these 5
bottles at a party, how much did you drink?
• Understand What Type of
Employee You Are and
What Laws May or May
• Know YourEmployer’s
Social Media Policy and
• Set Your Privacy Settings
Be Cautious About What
You Post, Even On Blogs
and Other’s Pages.
What Can You Do To Protect Yourself?