Getting "Fired By Tweet" Is Degrading, Rude, And Totally Legal

Getting “Fired By Tweet” Is Degrading, Rude, And Totally Legal

by Jun 13, 2018Employment Law

In what seems to be a never-ending parade of bad examples set by Donald Trump, his administration has brought into the public consciousness the idea that firing people via Twitter is an acceptable practice. To be clear, getting fired by Tweet–while usually legal–is a degrading, rude, and unprofessional way for employers to handle employee terminations.
 

Why Firing By Tweet Is Legal

The majority of employer/employee relationships in the United States are what’s called “at will” employment. Basically, it means an employer can fire an employee at any time, for any reason, with a few exceptions. From a legal standpoint, notifying an employee that they’ve been terminated can happen via any method an employer chooses.

Common courtesy and best practice has always been for businesses, not matter what size, to handle employee terminations with dignity and respect. Typically this involves a closed door meeting with a supervisor who notifies an employee of the company’s decision, and allows the employee to ask questions and provide feedback. Most importantly, the decision is communicated to an employee in private.

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Why Twitter Firing Is A Bad Idea

Frankly, an explanation of why firing someone via Twitter is a bad idea shouldn’t be necessary to an employer that cares about their employees or their reputation in the community. But, since the precedent has been set by Donald Trump, let’s point out the obvious:

  • There is a strong likelihood the employee will be humiliated and embarrassed publicly.
  • It exposes the company to potential backlash and brand retaliation.
  • It deprives both sides the opportunity to provide meaningful feedback.
  • It signals to existing and prospective employees that the company does not value being discreet or professional
  • It may create legal problems if the termination is unnecessarily harsh or appears discriminatory.

So, to sum up: firing employers via Twitter is a really, really awful idea. There’s no scenario where notifying an employee they’ve been terminated is best done through social media. No matter how poorly an employee’s performance or behavior may be, an employer should always strive to maintain a professional position and handle employee terminations with respect.
 

Should You Call A Lawyer?

If you’ve been fired via Twitter, or any other social media platform, the only time you would want to speak with a lawyer is if the message was discriminatory or implied that you were being terminated for discriminatory reasons.

For example, if the message stated or implied that you were being fired because of your age, gender, race, or sexual orientation, you should definitely speak with a lawyer and discuss filing a wrongful termination claim against your employer.

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