THE BLOG

Leave Work Out of Your Status Updates, or You'll Be Sorry

09/18/2012 05:31 EDT | Updated 11/18/2012 05:12 EST
PA

You got fired for WHAT?!

The scenario is not that uncommon: You hate your job, you hate your boss, you hate your co-workers... but what are you going to do? Everybody has to work. So you sit there and take it all day long and then go home, and with the greatest of eloquence, though perhaps not the most tact (and rarely a thought towards grammar or spelling) share your woes on Facebook to your closest of friends. It's the perfect outlet and makes you feel better every time, right?

Well, guess what? You better start to think before you post. Your job could be on the line for a lot less that you think. In fact, "First day at work. OMG!! So Dull!!" should just about do it. I mean really, how dare someone be bored at work -- of all places.

On LegalLinkup.com, about a third of the listings in the past few months have been people hunting for a lawyer to help them deal with being wrongfully terminated. There is a fast growing number of cases across north America where posts on social media sites have led to employees losing their jobs.

It's pretty obvious to everyone by now that you can get terminated for something you post on Facebook. Employers have reputations and employee morale to uphold and Facebook is where both collide. Give the number of coworkers who are probably Facebook friends with you right now it's probably no surprise to anyone that the courts have decided to treat your wall as simply an extension of the office.

It's one thing to update your status to call your boss "a total pervvy wanker" (especially when you've forgotten that you added him as a friend), but complaining about being bored? How much more innocuous can a post get. Most of the stuff we post would be perfectly fine around the water cooler, so why does Facebook make a difference? The obvious answer is that it's not an intimate chat you're having with a few friends; you're making a public statement, whether you intend to or not.

It has to be more than that, though. I mean, everyone gets bored at work and who cares if you broadcast a statement like that to the world? What's the harm? Unfortunately, the key comes down to timing and optics. You just never know what the boss is dealing with that week, and it could be that your innocent little post strikes right at the heart of a problem that needs fixing, and you're the perfect scapegoat.

So what can you do to protect yourself?

Simple. Think before you post. If you need to vent, grab yourself a drink and call a friend. As blasphemous as this may sound in this day an age, not every thought you have needs to be memorialized in a status update. Get yourself a journal, it'll save you a lot of heartache.

If you absolutely cannot restrain yourself, then take advantage of some of Facebook's privacy settings to restrict the number of people who have access to your rants. If access to your profile is restricted and doesn't include any co-workers, then you would have a basis to claim that your wall isn't just an extension of the office... but where's the fun in that?

Joshua Slayen is a lawyer and the VP of Business Development for LegalLinkup.com, the website that intelligently matches lawyers and clients based on needs and expertise.