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Should a social media post be grounds for dismissal?

• Nov 13, 2017 at 12:00 AM

Cyber privacy experts continue to advise Americans to be watchful of what they post to social network sites. Some ill-advised content can come back to haunt them.

Those who don’t use discretion when posting to Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites can fall victim to scam artists and digital stalkers.

More than a few posters have also discovered in recent years that it is sometimes their bosses who are seeing their content. And some have been fired after sharing their intimate thoughts on the internet.

One such case was seen last week in Virginia, where a woman was fired after she posted photograph of herself on Facebook flipping off President Trump’s motorcade. The photo of the woman on a bicycle giving the the president a middle finger was taken by a White House photographer, who was traveling with the president as he left his golf course in Sterling, Virginia.

The image went viral after news outlets picked up the story when it appeared in a White House pool report. Juli Briskman, the 50-year-old woman on the bike, said she was surprised to see someone had captured the moment on camera. Nonetheless, she made the photo her profile picture on Twitter and Facebook.

When people on social media began hailing her as a “she-ro,” Briskman told the Huffington Post she decided to let her employer’s human resources department know what was going on. Officials at Akima LLC, a government contractor, were not amused.

Briskman said they fired her from her job doing marketing and communications for the company. Akima officials said she violated the company’s social media policy when she made the photo her profile picture.

“They said, ‘We’re separating from you,’ ” Briskman told the HuffPost. “Basically, you cannot have ‘lewd’ or ‘obscene’ things in your social media. So they were calling flipping him (Trump) off ‘obscene.’ ”

Many employers have a company policy banning workers from speaking disparagingly about them or others on the internet. Critics, however, say such codes of conduct should not apply to an employee’s personal social pages.

They argue such restrictions infringe on their First Amendment rights.

Tell us what you think. Should companies be allowed to fire employees for comments or images they post on their personal social media pages? Send your comments to mailbag@johnsoncitypress.com. Please include your name, telephone number and address for verification.

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