One employee learned that, even during a COVID-19 pandemic, social media rants can have harsh consequences


Image by Andrey_Lesya from Pixabay

Amazingly, this piece of cloth creates so much civil unrest right now. But, this isn’t a blog post about whether individuals should have to wear face masks in public, at work, or other local businesses.

It’s been a while since I’ve done a social media firing post. So, this is about a worker that took his distaste for facemasks too far on Facebook. Plus, it’s a reminder about how your business should respond. Both Law360 (here; subscription required) and Courthouse News (here) report that a law firm in Texas has fired an administrative employee for this Facebook post. A now-former employee not only shared his negative feelings about having to wear a mask at a local supermarket but then threatened violence:

“Do I have to show the lame security guard outside of a ghetto store my CV19 test result? I will show him my Glock 21 shooting range results. With Hornady hollow points. Pricey ammo, but worth it in this situation. They have reached the limit. I have more power than they do … they just don’t know it yet.”

On Friday, the law firm announced on its Facebook page that it had learned about the threatening post, took swift action to end his employment, and apologized for the situation:

“This afternoon we learned that an administrative employee of the Firm issued a threatening and offensive post on a personal social media account related to COVID-19 mask protections. This post is a complete violation of the values of our Firm, including our commitment to the health and safety of the communities we serve. We have terminated this individual’s employment and notified the proper authorities about the post as a precaution. We are deeply sorry for this situation. This type of post is not and never will be tolerated by our Firm.”

The Facebook comments below the law firm’s post generally support the firm. I’ll borrow one of the comments as the takeaway for this blog post; namely, “Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences for that speech.”

But, hey, before I go, two things:

  1. If you missed Friday’s Facebook Live with Kate Bischoff on The Employer Handbook Facebook Fan Page, we recorded it. You can watch the video on FB (here) or on The Employer Handbook YouTube Channel by clicking here. (Please don’t forget to subscribe to the channel while you’re there, and click the little bell icon to get alerts when new videos go live. Also, you can like and comment on the video too, if you’re so inclined).
  2. I’ll be back this week on Zoom on Friday, May 15, 2020. Time TBD. My special guest is a person who knows a thing or two about this week’s topic: ‘classic’ FMLA. His name is Jeff Nowak. Maybe you’ve heard of him. Someone told me that he has a blog called FMLA Insights. And we’re going to focus on the role that The Classic will have as business re-open and employees return to work. I’ll share more details on the Zoom chat with Jeff, as well as a registration link, soon.
“Doing What’s Right – Not Just What’s Legal”
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