More and more people are fired for publications on social networks – we are discussing what you should know about this practice
We analyze the situation in Russia and the world, give examples from the IT sphere and not only, plus – the comments of an expert on personnel affairs and a lawyer of the Aktion Law system.
The scale of the business, the media profile and the influence of the employing company tend to play against employees who speak up on social media on a variety of topics. Even those that are not directly related to the activities of the organization. An illustration of this trend recently was the situation with the participation of Gina Carano, who played one of the notable roles in The Mandalorian.
There was enough of everything a couple of her sharp tweetscomparing the political situation in the United States to the Holocaust, so that Disney and Lucasfilm would terminate the filming contract and end cooperation with the star of the series. It didn’t help that the actress almost immediately deleted the publications – by this point the audience had raised a wave of criticism, and the studio considered it necessary to respond as quickly as possible, guided by image and reputation considerations.
Neil Druckmann, the creative director and co-president of the developer of the series The Last Of Us, most likely had similar concerns. He deleted his tweet referring to the vote for the second part of the game at The Game Awards, where he jokingly encouraged fans that every vote harms critics: “for every vote you cast …, a hater loses their caps lock.” By words Neil, the audience could interpret his words as the company’s refusal to listen to comments that were not true.
However, it cannot be ruled out that he simply remembered a similar case, which happened a few years ago and ended up being fired for one of the game designers of Subnautica. Then this employee decided to find out what he and his colleagues should do first of all: offer gamers the opportunity to act on behalf of a female character or improve all other aspects of the game. Such an inaccurate survey quickly attracted the attention of the general public, the company was forced to respond to it and fired the employee.
Oksana Volkova comments a lawyer, an expert of the Aktion Pravo system:
The employer may indeed believe that the business reputation of the entire organization has suffered because of this or that statement of the employee. However, according to Russian law, he has yet to prove which information is unreliable and damages the company’s image. It will not be possible to check whether personal opinion is true – the court will refuse such a claim.
But a company can break a civil contract or a classic labor contract. For example, if a ban on public comments about its activities is spelled out in the contract or annexes to it, and the employee is familiar with such a ban. In this case, a disclaimer stating that publications contain purely personal views will most likely not help.
On the other hand, if such a regulation does not contain a specific list of topics or clarifications about what and in what cases cannot be discussed in social networks, then the employer’s chances of achieving any kind of penalty fall. But if the personnel officers manage to compare the violation with the list of actions prohibited by the contract, a reprimand can be issued, and in case of repeated or serious misconduct, the employee will be brought to disciplinary responsibility in the form of termination of the contract and dismissal under paragraph 5 of part 1 of Article 81 of the Labor Code.
It turns out that from a legal point of view, warnings in the profile description like “views are my own”, “opinions expressed are solely my own”, like in the west, and with us, do not affect anything, but serve only as a calming factor for the audience and the author. The decisive factor is the content of the agreements according to which the specialist cooperates with the organization as of the date of publication of something in the media and social networks. Plus, of course, the laws and the willingness of the leadership to take decisive action. In Russia, such cases are not such a rare phenomenon, on the contrary, as the recent study SuperJob, we have been fired for posts in social networks twice as often compared to the situation in 2011. Today, this approach is practiced by 10% of companies, and more than a quarter – monitor employees’ publications on a regular basis and, as it turns out, such monitoring often bears fruit.
In fact, a company of any size can be fired for a post on social networks, even if your contract with it does not contain any restrictions on comments and statements in public space. The converse is also true – the absence of obvious “compromising evidence” is beneficial even to employees who have been fined. Remember historywhen a programmer automated the execution of his work tasks and spent the freed up time for six years playing League of Legends and resting right during the working day?
When he was exposed and fired, the officer challenged the decision. As a result, in addition to the amount of more than 570 thousand dollars in salary for all these years, the company also paid three months compensation for dismissal by decision of the management. The fact is that there were no formal reasons to apply any sanctions to the developer. One way or another, he performed the tasks, and there was simply no evidence of his absence from the “workplace” – for many years he had not made a single sloppy publication on forums and social networks that could give him away.
Perhaps this story is nothing more than a bike, but monitoring posts on social networks does often lead to layoffs, even if the content of the materials seems relatively harmless. Let’s say this is a live broadcast from a summer cottage or a beach, but during working hours. He will irritate some of his colleagues, others will decide to count such an act as absenteeism. Even if there is a laptop next to the employee, and on formal grounds they will be right. For a repeated violation, they can be fired.
However, in both the first and second cases, the employer will need to follow a certain procedure with the involvement of witnesses and try to get in touch with the truant to ask him to return to his duties. Only after several unsuccessful attempts at negotiations and a repetition of unfair behavior can we talk about a justified dismissal.
– Oksana Volkova lawyer, expert of the “Action Law” system
What is the bottom line
Maintaining personal profiles on social networks is based not only on an understanding of the formalities, but also on how the company treats certain ways of self-expression. Certain behavior can cause not only envy in your colleagues, but also other unpleasant emotions that will spill over into gossip and lead to the termination of cooperation.
In a similar situation a couple of years ago turned out to be YouTube channel author TechLead, who was “asked” from Facebook for too often mentioning in videos of his experience at Google, where he worked as a technical lead. In this case, the employer might not have formal complaints, since few people will take such moments into account in the agreement. However, the very fact of “calling on the carpet” for such an insignificant reason can nullify the employee’s motivation, and he himself will go to dismissal by agreement of the parties.
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