Fired for a Social Media Post? You Can Fight for Unemployment
In the current era of rampant social media usage and a divisive political climate, it has become increasingly common for employees to face discipline over social media posts. This has created a new legal conflict between the rights of employers and employees. How far does an employer’s interest in protecting its reputation extend? Can it preempt an employee’s right to free speech and opinions? The case law is still exploring this complicated issue. If you have been fired for social media posts, it is important to protect your right to unemployment compensation. Attorney Kenneth P. Carp has decades of experience in protecting the unemployment rights of Missouri residents.
The Trump Tweet That Ended a 20-Year Career
In Pennsylvania, a pro-Trump Tweet with possible racial implications cost one employee her job of 20 years. A Vice President of Human Resources at a retirement community sent a Tweet to then-candidate Donald Trump from her personal Twitter page. The Tweet indicated that her “informal survey of employees” showed 100 percent of “AA employees voting Trump!” The employer fired her, and the former Vice President filed for unemployment. The employer appealed the unemployment claim. It claimed that she had violated the employer’s social media policy, and was therefore ineligible for unemployment benefits as a result of willful misconduct. The employer maintained that “AA” referred to African American employees, and thus gave the Tweet an inappropriate racial dimension which violated its policies. The former employee, on the other hand, claimed that “AA” stood for administrative assistants. She also claimed that her husband had sent the Tweet from her account.
At the hearing, the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review found that the former employee’s testimony about her husband was not credible and that she had sent the Tweet herself. Nonetheless, she was found not to have violated the company’s social media policy, because her Tweet did not “identify herself” with the employer. This lead the Board to ultimately conclude that the employer did not meet its burden of proof in demonstrating willful misconduct. The case was, again, appealed to the court. The Court’s opinion affirmed the Board’s findings that the employee had not engaged in willful misconduct. This was largely due to the specific provisions of the employer’s social media rule, which prohibited linking to the employer’s internal or external website from a personal blog or website. Because the former employee merely followed her employer on Twitter, this was not a link and did not violate the employer’s policy.
This case demonstrates how an employee can effectively use the facts of termination to fight for unemployment benefits. Even through several stages of review and multiple difficult challenges and appeals by the employer, this former employee was able to successfully secure unemployment benefits.
Aggressive Representation for Your Unemployment Claim
Attorney Kenneth P. Carp has extensive experience in fighting for unemployment benefits. Trust his skill and experience to protect your legal rights. Call (636) 947-3600 today or write us online today to schedule your consultation. Our law firm will help secure the unemployment benefits to which you are legally entitled.