3 Ways Facebook Can Be Used to Investigate, Fire Employees - In House
In House - The FindLaw Corporate Counsel Blog

3 Ways Facebook Can Be Used to Investigate, Fire Employees

With the proliferation of social media, more and more employers are turning to Facebook to investigate and fire their employees.

As you may know, there's a huge difference between suspecting that an employee is doing something against the rules and actually proving it.

But thanks to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, GCs and HR managers can now use an employee's own words or images against him. Here are three ways that Facebook has been used to investigate the suspected wrongdoings by employees:

  1. FMLA Abuse. The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that an employer acted lawfully when it terminated an employee after Facebook photos showed the employee drinking at a festival when she claimed to be incapacitated due to a medical condition, reports Inside Counsel. It should be noted that even after the employer found the incriminating photos of the woman, the employer did not rush to judgment and gave the employee a chance to explain the photos.

  2. Workers' Comp Abuse. Sensing a theme here? Earlier this year, a court found that Facebook and Myspace photos of a man "drinking and partying" can be used as evidence to deny him further workers' compensation claims, according to ABC News. The man supposedly suffered a hernia that entitled him to workers' compensation benefits. But the photos of the man partying painted a picture of a man that was perhaps not quite as injured as he claimed to be.

  3. Violations of Company Policy. Lewd comments, racist messages, and pictures of illegal drug use may all potentially be used to support disciplinary action. However, some care should be used when using purely private conduct to support an employment decision.

Given the relative newness of social media, there is still some uncertainty when relying on Facebook messages and photos to discipline an employee. Still, it seems more and more employers are turning to these sites to gather evidence and to support termination decisions.

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