Can Off-Duty Social Media Conduct Affect Your Job?

Can Off-Duty Social Media Conduct Affect Your Job?

An Air Canada pilot was recently grounded for inappropriate posts on his social media. While this particular case involved a unionized employee, it raises an important question for non-unionized workers too. Can you be disciplined, or even terminated, for off-duty social media conduct?

What are the grounds for terminating employees in non-federally regulated workplaces in Ontario?

Non-federally regulated employers in Ontario can terminate employees for any reason, so long as they are given proper notice or pay in lieu thereof often known as severance pay, and that the termination is not based on any discriminatory grounds. If an employer makes the decision to terminate you based on your behaviour online, so long as you are given proper notice, then you may not have any recourse.

However, firing someone for cause is a different question. Just cause is a high bar, such that it is considered the “capital punishment” of employment law, because it disentitles employees to much of their potential severance.

What factors determine if social media behavior can be considered “just cause” for termination?

There are numerous factors that would play into whether social media conduct rises to the level of just cause. Some examples include the damage to the reputation of the employer, previous warnings or instances of such behaviour of the employee, and the existence and wording of the employer’s social media policy. It depends on the facts of each case.

All things considered, you should be careful of what you fire off into the virtual world of the internet. Once it’s online, it is out of your hands, and it can be nigh impossible to scrub it off the internet completely.

If your social media conduct has gotten you terminated without cause, you should make sure that you have been provided the reasonable notice or pay in lieu that you are owed. If such conduct led to a termination for cause, then you should confirm whether this disciplinary measure is appropriate. If not, you may still be entitled to reasonable notice or pay in lieu.

How can an experienced employment lawyer help in such cases?

Either way, you should reach out to an experienced employment lawyer. We at Whitten & Lublin are happy to provide insight and advice into your specific circumstances. If you are looking for employment lawyers and would like more information about what Whitten & Lublin can do for you, please contact us online or by phone at (416) 640-2667 today.

Author – Sohrab