Should employees be disciplined or fired over Facebook?

Summary:Facebook is increasingly being used to discipline employees -- even fire them in some cases. Managers may find themselves on shaky legal ground.

Facebook is increasingly being used to discipline and fire employees for indiscretions at work, to the point where the federal agency overlooking labour law is finding itself in "new territory".

There are cases reported where employees have been given the can because of their actions on Facebook. This over the course of time seems to be relatively common: be prepared to toe the corporate line.

Many would even be willing to undergo a level of social 'vetting' to ensure that their private lives would not compromise their work lives.

"It's new territory", said a spokesperson for the National Labor Relations Board, which still deals with dozens of cases a month of Facebook-fired employees.

(Image via Flickr)

The trouble falls down to many not differentiating between 'work Facebook' and 'personal Facebook', and being unsure of the best method of communication to get a point across.

A settlement earlier this year, however, determined that employees could not be disciplined by their boss as a result of the content they post on the world's largest social network.

However, this leads to the 'Facebook generation' and the complexity of Facebook as a communications platform.

For small to medium sized businesses that are still finding their footing in the world, Facebook is a vital communications platform. From private groups to even an email platform, it can be used as a free, easy to use -- at least for younger people -- and social platform for younger entrepreneurs to work from.

One thing is clear, is that for younger people -- they have a lot to learn about what they can and cannot say whilst in employment with a particular person or body. Employers, on the other hand, need to carefully dissect the difference between what is work and what is not -- and ensure policies are in place to deal with disciplinary hearings correctly.

Besides anything else, it's just unprofessional behaviour to use Facebook in such a way.

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Topics: Social Enterprise

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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