The popularity of the internet and social media has made it the top choice of communication platform in this modern age. In fact, almost all people you meet these days have their own Facebook or Twitter account, which represent two of the most popular social networking sites on the internet. This has also been the center of controversy in the workplace with quite a few employees from various parts of the law having been fired due to their posts on Facebook. It is therefore important to consider what the California labor laws had to say about regulation of internet activity, especially when posts made have something to do with their employer or work.
This particular aspect of the California labor law entails the privacy rights of the employees, along with freedom of speech. The Article 1, Section 1 of the California law regarding employment states that all citizens, not just employees, are free and independent by nature to express their thoughts in whatever medium would suit them. In connection with this, they also have a right to privacy that they can protect at all times.
This particular right carries over to the workplace and employer liability can therefore be prevented if you took the time to learn about the law’s coverage when it comes to upholding these rights. The status of the employee does not even matter when concerning this aspect of the law because all employees have the right to privacy.
This is one of the most argued element of the California labor law over the years, whether between private or public companies. Company owners think that it is part of the employer rights to dismiss someone from their job based on their conduct. However, the California Constitution would say that employers have no right to regulate or limit activity by the employees, especially when it is done during off-working hours, provided of course that the activity is legal and is not directly meant to disparage the company concerned.
Businesses that are looking to pursue and protect their own employers rights think it is worthwhile to pursue discussion on this matter. This is indeed a very complex area of the law to consider knowing that nearly all types of social media or internet activities done by the employee takes place outside of the work environment, such as their home, internet cafes, library, or anywhere they have access to internet. This becomes even more complicated as most companies rely on internet technologies to operate their business, which therefore provides their employees more access to the internet.
Any activities performed by the employee via the internet or their social media accounts do not hold them accountable for dismissal or termination from the job. The only known grounds for dismissal, based on the Labor Code in the state of California, is any online activity upheld by the employee that includes but not limited to the following: disclosure of confidential company information, violation of another co-worker’s privacy, or any illegal activity, especially when it is damaging to the company where the person is employed under. This is when the employers rights will be put in effect and where the regulatory rights of the company will last.
Debates are still ongoing as to the extent of protection for employers with internet and social media activity by employees. But as for now, the California labor laws remain firm in observing individual rights to free speech, especially when it is performed outside of the working hours and the employee is not utilizing company resources.