As social media posts surface and cause backlash, businesses rethink policies for employees

Businesses across the country are rethinking how they handle the social media use of employees.

In recent weeks, employees are finding themselves without a job after posts made in online forums like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

The owner of one Durham business recently dismissed an employee over posts made to social media that some would deem distasteful about the death of George Floyd.

The business did not want to be identified publicly, saying that it received an immense amount of backlash, but did agree to answer a few questions over email.

"The bad has been more than we could have ever imagined....We have gotten threats, physical and verbal complaints, horrible reviews, and lost valued customers..."

"The minute you put something online, it can go viral very quickly," said Dr. Henry McKoy, the Director of Entrepreneurship at North Carolina Central University.

Even if a post is deleted, a screenshot can last forever.

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"Companies are now put in a situation about what things their employees post and how that might affect the overall business and overall brand," Dr. McKoy said.
But what about first amendment rights and freedom of speech?

"First amendment right really only focuses on the government. The government can't censor you from saying certain things, but a private company they have the right of association."

For the company previously mentioned, they say the point of view expressed by their now former employee is "not who we want representing our company. Many of our clients were offended and surprised about this situation and that is not something as a company we ever want anyone to feel."

If you're a business owner, Dr. McKoy suggests three takeaways:

1. State upfront what the social media policy is and explain why the standard is what it is.
2. Provide examples of what is and what is not acceptable.
3. Provide ongoing social media training for not only new hires, but for current employees.
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