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Should employees get fired over social media?

Illustration: Carter Klassen · The Sentry

employees are allowed to express their opinion

Opinion by Kaia Stallings

It’s no secret that a large majority of the population around the world has some type of social media account. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram serve as ways for people to express themselves and share the exciting moments that life has to offer. It also offers a platform for people to express any disdain they may have about current events or, more commonly, their work life. 

It’s become a common practice for companies to check their potential employee’s social media accounts to see if they will represent the company well. Companies will often continue to monitor the accounts of employees after hire. This practice is not inherently a bad thing. For example, in 2016 Professor Nikolaos Balaskas was fired from York University for sharing anti-Semitic posts on Facebook. These are the kinds of things that should be looked out for when monitoring the social media accounts of employees. 

However, there are cases of people being let go from their jobs for normal social behaviors that most everyone does. For example, Kaitlyn Walls was fired from a daycare for expressing that she didn’t enjoy being around large groups of children on Facebook. Kaitlyn’s post may have been ill advised, but the truth of the matter is that not everyone has the privilege to work at a job they enjoy. 

There is nothing wrong with expressing this on social media. To hold people to the standard of their workplace at all times is unrealistic. In 2016 Talia Jane posted an open letter to the CEO of Yelp, Jeremy Stoppelman, on the writing platform Medium. The letter detailed how pay was incredibly low to the point that it was hard to afford rent and groceries. Jane was let go from Yelp due to the letter being a personal attack on the CEO.  

At the end of the day, companies should realize that their employees are people after they leave work. Raising valid criticisms or expressing personal feelings towards the workplace should not be frowned upon. As long as social media posts are not harmful, people should be allowed to post what they please without having to worry about losing their job.  

firing over social media protects the company

Opinion by Sophie Auriti

Many social media users feel that their page is where they can speak freely on any topic they like, being that it is their page. This is true via common sense and the first amendment. They are mistaken, however, in thinking that what they put online and words directly from their digital mouths will have no impact on both personal and professional relationships.  

When one posts racist, sexist, transphobic, homophobic, or other bigoted remarks online, it stays there to be viewed until either deleted by the author or app administrators. When it’s out and available to the public, potential employers are bound to check for anything off putting or in the case of bigoted remarks such as ones falling under the categories mentioned above, directly violating the Anti-Discrimination Act, which, however, all Colorado employees are made aware of and must agree to upon hiring.  

In the case of potentially dangerous or outright threatening ideologies, employers have even more reason and urgency to deny applicants employment. A case of threatening social media posts occurred in Pueblo, CO. A highschool student had posted videos and text posts directly threatening to terrorize a school with live firearms. When reported, they were arrested and a potentially massive and tragic crisis was averted. Without the role of social media in the case, a much grimmer outcome was highly likely. While there is no law that someone threatening violence may not be hired, a common sense of safety implies that anyone posting such thoughts freely should not be hired for the sake of safety of the workplace and people therein.  

Media posts such as these, frankly, serve as warnings to be heeded. It falls under the same pretense of not hiring someone with a swastika or teardrop tattoo. When these signs, either visual or textual, are in clear and open view of a potential employer, such a person has every right, both legally and morally, to withhold employment from likely dangerous individuals.  

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