Managing employees has always been a challenge for any employer, large or small; however, ever since the rise of social media sites like Facebook, the challenge has seemed to grow exponentially.
Most recently it seems that the increasing exposure individual actions are receiving is testing employers in new ways. One example is the federal employee who was fired after a photo of her flipping off the presidential motorcade went viral. While a federal employer has additional considerations to those of a private one, the resulting lawsuit is cause for concern for any employer. Other recent stories include a woman fired from her job with an apartment development after the story of her calling the police on a black man wearing socks at the pool went viral.
Increasingly, employers are being faced with a new reality that their employees represent them to the entire world even during the hours the employee is off the clock. This puts employers in the position of having to determine how to proceed with operating their business and dealing with their employees when these incidents arise.
Even in cases where the employee conduct leads to an easy decision, there is always the consideration of whether the action will subject the company to a lawsuit. Even if the lawsuit is one the employer should win, the time and financial cost of defending the suit will still hit the business.
In the end, it appears employers increasingly need to be even more cautious in hiring individuals and make sure they fit with and represent the basic principles the organization stands for in broad terms. Employers must also make sure their employees continue to adhere to these principles throughout the employment. And, finally, if faced with a difficult decision of dealing with employee conduct outside work that gains widespread attention, it is vital to get sound legal advice before determining how to proceed.