Most workers in California these days either have a social media account or at least would be able to figure out how post something on social media without much effort.

While those who are involved with social media probably think that what they post is their personal business, employers do have some rights to review an employee’s social media account and, depending on the circumstances, mete out punishments if they do not like what they see.

However, there are some limits to what employers can and cannot do with respect to an employee’s social media account. For example, some social media posts, however unflattering they may be to an employer, are considered protected under federal labor law.

In other words, an employer who tries to discipline an employee for saying something critical about the employer may find itself accused of retaliating against an employee for discussing working conditions. Employers must take care that their social media policies are not so broad that they could be used to keep an employee from working with others to make the work environment more employee friendly.

Likewise, social media policies, or their enforcement, cannot be used to violate other state and federal employment laws. In this respect, an employer also must enforce social media policies consistently. Selective enforcement, after all, could be a sign that an employer is using its policy as an excuse for employment discrimination.

For many employees in Fresno and other parts of California, the privacy of their social media accounts is important, as is their right to legally discuss their work environment. If a person feels his or her employer has improperly relied on a social media post when making an employment decision, he or she should consider evaluating available legal options.