Recently, a young woman was fired because she posted a negative opinion about veterans on her Facebook page.
A tenured University of Kansas professor was placed on administrative leave after Tweeting that the NRA bore responsibility for the Sept. 16 Navy Yard shooting.
Social media has made it easier to communicate, but sometimes, employees risk their jobs in sharing controversial or offensive views. This is a policy Susan Hawley and Linda Allen, owners of Nooks and Crannies in McPherson, tend to agree with.
Though they only have one employee who they say doesn’t use social media very much, Hawley and Allen said they would be concerned about what an employee’s online statements might mean for their business.
“They represent our company if they work for us,” Hawley said. “That would reflect negatively on us.”
Hawley and Allen said they would first speak to the employee and explain why what they post on social media is inappropriate. They said if behavior didn’t change, they would let the employee go.
However, Mike Yates, owner of Mattress Haven and co-owner of The Village Geek, said he sees things differently.
“Facebook to me is a lot more a medium of personal expression,” Yates said. “I think we’re still figuring out what place it has in our society.”
Yates said he would worry about employees saying negative things about his business, his customers or those that work there, but he wouldn’t fire anyone for sharing their personal views.
“I think there have been cases where people were fired because their views differed from their employers,” Yates said. “I don’t agree with that.”
Yates said older business owners might be more concerned with what employees say online because social media is relatively new and still struggling to define itself. Still, he said he would make a distinction between personal and professional opinions.
Yates does agree that being online doesn’t absolve a person from taking responsibility for their actions.
“It’s a public forum,” Yates said. “You should use proper judgment.”
Hayden Wash, a receptionist for Integrity Salon, said employer concern should depend on what an employee is saying. She said employers should act on insults to a boss or the company, but complaining about a bad day shouldn’t be a big deal.
“If they post ‘Work sucked today,’ I don’t think that’s grounds for anything,” Wash said.
However, Wash said employees should recognize that their actions could reflect poorly on their employer.
“Even when you’re not at work, you’re still representing the company,” Wash said.
Page 2 of 2 - Some local business owners declined to comment because they don’t use social media or because they have no employees.
Larger companies have corporate policies regarding the use of social media.
Contact Josh Arnett by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @ArnettSentinel.