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Dear Steward: Advice to Employees About Social Media

At a recent conference, the panel of labor arbitrators discussed this area of discipline:  employees who use social media that causes their employer to discipline them.

We highlight the gems or wisdom of the arbitrators’ advice, stated in the most “training-friendly” way:

1.    You don’t have friends on social media.

You may think you do, but your friends – just like any other person’s friends – can leak it.  Your post is no longer within your friend group.  Screen shots also prove that social media is not private.

2.    Social media conversations are NOT conversations.

In a normal conversation, you can deny saying it, or at least that it’s not what you meant to say.  Social media is always there.  It’s a permanent record.  And you have lost the right to deny it or re-cast it.

4.    The impact can be far greater.

When the conversation was around the water cooler, the old cases show that, if there was disparagement of the company or demeaning of fellow employees, people were offended, but the impact was never like it is today, with social media.

5.    Don’t trust 6 people.

An arbitrator upheld the discharge of an employee who thought he could trust his 6 friends on Snapchat.  Contrast that with the interests of the employer.  Who do you think should win in this dangerous game?

-L2019 Steward Council

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