Employee’s Twitter Hatin’ Costs Him Unemployment Benefits

(Editor’s Note:  Mixed signals by Federal and State Agencies have got employer’s mystified.  What kind of policies should an employer have?  How can employees be disciplined?  Can employees protect themselves from social media disparagement?  If you have found a way to handle social media during these uncertain times, tell us about.)

An employee getting fired for caustic social-media posts is so 2011. Having an application for unemployment-compensation benefits denied because of Twitter stupidity — that’s the new black.

Details of a recent Commonwealth of Pennsylvania decision — don’t tread on me, Idaho — after the jump…

Stephen Burns was fired from his job after his employer learned that Burns had repeatedly tweeted that his work environment was “toxic,” his co-workers were “morons,” and his administrative assistant was “dysfunctional,” “psychotic,” and “schizophrenic.”

To set the stage, the employer had a number of policies in place that prohibited harassment and disparagement of co-workers. After one of Burns’s co-workers alerted the employer to the Twitter comments, Burns was confronted, at which time he admitted that he was the author of the tweets. At his unemployment compensation hearing, Burns further admitted that he was aware of the employer’s respect-in-the-workplace policies. Initially, a referee granted unemployment compensation benefits. However, on appeal Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Board of Review reversed and denied benefits to Burns.

For the reasons set forth above; namely, the violation of a reasonable work rule, the Commonwealth Court affirmed and denied benefits. (Opinion here).

Continue Reading at The Employer Handbook

By  Eric B. Meyer


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not of The HR Gazette or its team members.
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