Can I Be Disciplined for Posting On Social Media?

If you post something on social media, do you have an expectation of privacy?  According to current trends in arbitration and court cases, no.  If you post complaints or criticisms about your work or anyone at work, can you be disciplined?  It depends.

Be cautious when posting to social media.

Be cautious when posting to social media.

If you need or want legal advice, seek counsel.  CSEA union stewards cannot give advice on law.  What stewards can do, though, is inform you of contract or college policy restrictions, practices, and college discipline procedures.  If you are posting derogatory comments on a Mt. SAC social media platform, you may be at risk for discipline.  If you post on, for example, your Facebook timeline, and that post is about work-related issues, then you may not be subject to disciplinary action.

The Education Code, Labor Code, National Labor Relations Act, and the California Public Employee Relations Board all have years of case law examples of what is called “concerted activity.”  Concerted activity is protected speech.  If you post on social media complaints or criticisms about work-related issues, and you engage in a discussion with others for the purpose of improving these work-related issues or for the purpose of organizing yourself to complain to Human Resources of even your union, then that more than likely would be considered “concerted activity” and protected speech.  If you post negative comments, derogatory comments, or defamatory remarks about anyone you work with, and then a manager sees this and complains to Human Resources, then you could face disciplinary action if it violates Board Policy 3050, 3410, 3430, 3700, or others, unless it falls under “concerted activity.”

If you are concerned about social media postings being used against you, the best advice is not to post at all.  Otherwise, contact your Chief Steward Elizabeth Jauregui or anyone on the CSEA 262 Executive Board for advice.  In most cases, the old idiom “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything” is probably very good advice for anyone.  Just keep in mind, though, that when it comes to social media, you have no reasonable expectation of privacy.  Assume that everyone you work with can read your post, and let that guide your actions.