free speech

Posted: August 9, 2013
By: Clay Cerny

A friend sent me an article from the Society of Human Resources Managers (SHRM).  It discussed the case of an employee who was fired for what she wrote in a personal blog. A TV reporter mocked her managers and, worst still, viewers.  The article notes that this was not the first time that the employee posted negative comments about her job and pay.

Some might say that this was a personal space, the employee’s blog. That claim might work if she had written her words in a journal that no one else sees or if she used a function similar to the one on Facebook that limits who can view an online post.  A blog is public.  It can be viewed by anyone, including employers.

If your thoughts about your job are disparaging or harmful to the company, it can – in most cases – end your employment.  Use “social” media very carefully.  We’ve all heard stories of people who lost opportunities because of photos or posts on Facebook.  Companies are using social media to evaluate both prospective and current employees.  Practice good career management:  Think before you post.

Posted: November 12, 2012
By: Clay Cerny

Cold Stone Creamery fired an employee for making offensive remarks about President Obama.  On first glance, this sounds like a violation of a citizen’s right to free speech.  However, the employee’s comments cross the line.  In a Facebook post, she refers to the President as a racial slur and expresses a hope that he is assassinated.  Those comments are extreme.  While the speaker may have a right to say them, an employer has an equal right to protect its reputation and brand.

I don’t believe employers should tell employees what to think or say.  But, in a case like this one, the public manner of the employee’s statement (posting it on Facebook) impacts the employer.  The moral of the story is to think twice before you post something offensive that might reflect poorly on your employer.  It could cost you a job.