Jofi Joseph, a former National Security Council employee, has
been fired after it was revealed that he wrote a Twitter account that
insulted and criticized various government officials. The firing carries
an important lesson for any employee: private social media can be grounds for
Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. all recognize the doctrine of
“employment at will,” which states that you can quit at any time for any reason
or be fired at any time for any reason or no reason, so long as it’s not an
illegal reason. Each state has its own special rules, but the illegal
reasons include race, gender, religion, ethnicity, national origin, age,
disability, and military service.
That means that your Internet presence can get you
legitimate trouble at work. You could be fired for posting to
Facebook photos of yourself playing beer pong or establishing a LinkedIn
connection with a competitor’s CEO.
At least one notable exception: the National
Board takes the position that complaining about work on, say, Facebook may be
“concerted activity” protected under the NLRA if it deals with the terms and
conditions of employment.
D.C. recognizes political affiliation as a protected
category as well, but that might not have saved Mr. Joseph, since the problem
was that the tweets were extremely critical and rude, not that they were
If you’ve been fired or otherwise discriminated against
because of something you did outside of work, please call us to schedule a
consultation. We can tell you whether you have any actionable claims.
Cook (571) 732-3697 Cook Craig & Francuzenko, PLLC 3050 Chain Bridge Road, Suite
200 Fairfax, VA 22030