Is it legal if I was fired for something that I did at home on my time?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Is it legal if I was fired for something that I did at home on my time?

I was fired from my job for sending a private message to someone on Facebook about something that happened at work.

Asked on March 2, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

The fact is that most employment relationships are what is known as "at will". This means that a company can set the terms and conditions of employment much as it sees fit. This includes making degrogatory remarks about your workplace on an on-line social media site. So if your employor has a social networking policy and you violate it, then that could be grounds for a termination, suspension or other disciplinary action.
Therefore, unless this acion violates an employment contract, union agreement or constitutes legally actionable discrimination it is legal. 
That having been said, while an employer has the right to take action against an employee for engaging in prohibited uses of social media, some states have laws that prohibit employers from disciplining employees from certain conduct outside of the workplace and they are written broadly enough to cover online activity. Also, a social networking policy that is too restrictive may violate an employee’s rights as outlined in the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The Act protects the rights of employees to engage in “concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection”. Consequently, this section gives employees the right to speak out if it is an effort to improve the conditions of the workplace. Accordingly, employers’ social networking policies that prohibit such online conduct might be considered a violation of an employee’s rights.
Here is a link to a site that will explain further:

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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