Can Your Employer Fire You for Social Media Posts?

On Friday January 8th, The Noble Law’s own Laura Noble appeared on WRAL to provide North Carolina employees with answers. Recent events have employees questioning what personal speech rights they have in and outside of work.

*Originally aired January 8th, 2021.


David Crabtree: “Johnson County woman is under investigation by federal authorities, all of this stemming from a statement made about President-Elect Biden in a video now shared more than a million times. WRALs Adam Owens joins us live in Smithfield with how much trouble the video has caused for her, Adam.”

Adam Owens: “David, this is an understatement, but this video has caused a world of trouble for the woman who appears on it. Authorities were alerted to what she says in that video and we learned today you can also get fired for it.”

Owens: “The video clip viewed millions of times is short, but the outrage it is caused his lasting much longer. A woman seems to celebrate a photo of demonstrators in the US Capitol, but what she says next has people really upset.”

Devin O’Neil: “…now only they could find Biden and shoot him between the eyes that be great…”

Owens: “That statement is what moved authorities to investigate they tell me the woman in the clip is Devin O’Neil the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office says her case was handed over to the Secret Service. We are told they recently visited her Johnston County home. According to text added to the video, she works at Medfirst in Smithfield. In a statement, a spokesperson for the company says “They are deeply disturbed by the video, and they have fired the employee in question.””

Owens:” Attorney Laura Noble is not connected to the case, but I wanted to ask her can an employer fire you for something you say online?”

Laura Noble: “[Your] employer is not bound by the 1st amendment. An employer can restrict the kind of speech that it finds acceptable in the workplace.”

Owens: “Noble says there are some exceptions you cannot be fired for complaining about working conditions. Public employees have due process hearings, and the rules may be different for workers with employment contracts, but apart from that the boss can fire you.”

Noble: “…and [if] they find it offensive or in some way demonstrate that you are no longer the right fit for their company and their company values and their company culture. they can certainly terminate you for that public speech that you made.”

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