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Can My Employer Discipline Me For Personal Social Media Use?

 Posted on December 22, 2020 in Civil Service Employment and Job Defense

New York City employment defense lawyerIn 2020, social media is a regular part of life for most Americans, and some even use it to perform work-related activities. However, social media activity can also often be a source of conflict between employers and employees, and in some cases it can lead to employee discipline or even termination. If you are facing discipline from your employer due to your social media use, an employment defense attorney can help you understand your rights.

Policies and Laws Regarding Employee Social Media Use

Due to the increased prevalence of social media, many employers now have social media and electronic communication policies that address issues including social media use during work hours, content that employees may or may not share on social media, and the monitoring of work email and other activities on work-issued electronic devices. If your employer has such a policy, you may have been asked to agree to it at the time you were hired or when the policy was created. This consent is a crucial component in justifying an employer’s discipline of an employee for any social media activity that may violate the policy.

However, there are some situations in which the legality of disciplining an employee for social media use may be called into question. For example, federal laws like the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) and the Stored Communications Act (SCA) provide protections from the interception of or access to electronic communications without the sender’s consent, such as in cases in which access was acquired surreptitiously or through the use of force. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) also protects employees from discrimination for using social media for the purposes of collective bargaining, and appeals court rulings have held that employee communication with legal counsel may also be protected from employer surveillance.

New York state law also protects employees from discrimination regarding their participation in legal recreational or political activities outside of work hours. This may apply to both social media activity itself, as well as other activities discussed on social media.

Responding to a Disciplinary Investigation

If you are facing a disciplinary investigation regarding your social media use, your attorney can advise you on the best course of action. You have the right to an attorney’s presence when undergoing questioning from your employer, and we can advise you as to whether you should comply with your employer’s requests. We will also recommend and prepare possible defense strategies, and we can advise you on the possibility of legal action against your employer in cases involving discrimination.

Contact a New York Employment Defense Attorney

At The Law Firm of Gregory J. Watford, Esq. PLLC, we focus on protecting the rights of civil service employees who may be facing disciplinary action. When you need a qualified legal advocate and representative for your case, we are ready to help. Contact an NYC civil service job defense lawyer today at 646-580-6675.



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