Should an employer be able to fire an employee based upon material that the employee posted on-line? Or, should a company be able to refuse to hire an otherwise qualified job applicant because the applicant posted questionable material on a MySpace account or a personal blog?
Dallas, Texas (WiredPRNews.com) — Regulation by an employer of an employee’s off-duty behavior brings into conflict competing concerns regarding an employee’s personal freedom and an employer’s need for respectability. Yet in several states, employees (in particular, public school teachers) have been suspended or discharged for posting suspect material on social networking websites. Further, many companies now initially screen job applicants via a peek on social networking websites.
While the limits to which an employer may regulate its employees’ off-duty behavior remain fuzzy, all employees and job applicants should consider this issue. An employee should be mindful of both his position and his employer’s reputation when posting material on-line. Job candidates, especially, should critically examine any material posted on-line and should refrain from posting any pictures or material that could lead prospective employers to form negative perceptions. This includes obviously inappropriate material, such as risqué photographs or descriptions of drunken escapades, but also includes subtle political messages, complaints about an applicant’s current job, or links to friends’ pages that contain questionable material.
For more information regarding Internet privacy issues in the employment context, contact the Texas employment law attorneys at Clouse Dunn Khoshbin LLP at [email protected]