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Case Study of Tolu

Discuss about the term for Employees Fired for Facebooking.

The assignment deals with a case study that argues over the employees’ freedom on social media activity. In this assignment, a female employee named Tolu has been sacked from the organization because of her social media activity. The assignment critically analyzes the issue of monitoring employees apart from the workplace. Since social media is a modern revolution, many companies have tried to monitor their employee's activity on social media. The platform like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are often checked by the organization to monitor their employees activity. However, many experts argue that it is not right at all. According to them, companies need to understand that professional and personal lives of employees are completely different from each other. The assignment analyzes the impact of social media monitoring can have on the employees. It also gives a brief description of the relevant theories to explain the unethical aspects of social media monitoring. The assignment also focuses on the concept like freedom of speech, personal rights to critically evaluate this issue.

The phenomenon of social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook has alternatively influence concern, excitement and controversy among business anywhere.  Many organizations have also started to monitor their employees activities on social media. Almost 750 million people are using Facebook and millions more using Instagram, Twitter to share their personal view. Therefore, companies are also using social media as a platform to monitor their employees activities. The case study describes an employee story named Tolu, who was terminated from her job because of her comment in Facebook. However, fired for online posting is not a new phenomenon. Many such examples are present where employees are fired because of her online posting against their company’s culture or policy.

 However, in the case of Tolu, she does not comment anything wrong against her organization. Therefore, the termination decision of Tolu cannot be accepted at all. According to the First Amendment Rights, everyone has the right to share his/her thought on the social platform. However, it has seen that First Amendment protects employees from government organizations but not from of private organization. In Tolu’s case, company’s decision of sacking her is against the National Labor Relation Act (NLRA). Not only that, there are number laws that have been initiated by the government over the years to restrict employers right to monitor employees personal life. NLRA protects employees rights to communicate their views on the social medium. Lately, National Labor Organization Board enforced the act and shown interest in right against employers to give freedom to the online activities of the employee. Hence, Tolu can obviously file a case against her organization against the injustice. According to the NLRB, Tolu has the right to say whatever she wants on her Facebook account. In addition, since Tolu has not shared any company information of Facebook, she has the right to have her jobs.

Legal Aspects of Social Media Monitoring

However, it has been found that company search for reasons to terminate someone when they somehow do not like that particular employee. In Tolu’s case, may be the employer is looking for a reason to terminate her and the post in Facebook is just mere reason. Though it is unacceptable, many organizations have found to practice this. In this case, Tolu was completely devastated by the management decision. She felt that it is completely within her personal rights to post or comment whatever she wants.

On the other hand, from an organization point of view, employee monitoring is crucial because it not only involves employee activities but also the reputation of the company. But checking employees personal information or questioning someone's blog that has no relation with the organization is completely unethical. In Tolu’s case, company not only questioned her blog or comment but it was used a factor to terminate her, which is completely illegal. In addition, this kind of decision of the organizations will have negative impact on the other employees as well. As they might feel that, the company is getting into their personal lives as well. This will not help the organization to maintain their reputation (Drouin et al. 2015).

The primary objective of the organization regarding monitoring employees activities on social networking is to monitor weather they have any activity against their organization or not (Delaney 2013). It includes the activities like sharing confidential information of the organization, harassing any other employees of the company on the social forum publicly, etc. According to the law, employees this kind of practices are treated as an illegal offense and can be penalized for that. However, Tolu does not say anything wrong against the organization or employee and the in that particular comment she does not mention any name also. Hence, no judiciary system of the world can support the Tolu’s termination. Here, a recent case of AstraZeneca can be mentioned as well. A senior level employee of AstraZeneca has recently found to share his negative view regarding the culture of the organization on the social media platform that actually affecting the reputation of the company. Here management team of the organization tries to resolve the issue very sincerely by simply warning him. The management also takes step to educate that particular employee about the negative outcome of this. It works very well for the organization and it able to resolve the issue without any problem. But in the case of Tolu, the management do not even warn her for single time and also the employees of the organization not even informed about the organizations initiatives on employee monitoring (Crane 2011). This reflects that the organization has a poor staff communication process as well. It clarifies that management does not really bothered about the importance of communication among different levels of employees. Therefore, Tolu was completely unaware of the fact that her company is taking initiatives on checking employees personal social networks account. Hence, this even makes a strong case for Tolu to get back her job on her legal rights.

Impact on Employees

In modern business structure, all the organizations are seriously engaging with the issue of use of social networking sites by the employees and have adopted several approaches do deal with the issue (Holbrook 2011). However, most of the companies do not have a direct policy on the use of social networking sites by the employees, but it does have policy regarding general internet use. HRMC does provide specific guidelines on the use of social networking that include the whole company. The guidance is based on the organizational policies on this area, such as its policy on bullying and code of conduct. It also conveys a key massage that every employee need to follow the standard code of conduct and online behavior as would be expected offline (Greenhouse 2010).

Hence, policy regarding uses of social media at the workplace is a major cause of concern for every organization. Therefore, employee guidelines for use of social media advocates a wider policy before it is finalized (Thomson 2009). For example, guidance provided by Acas to the employees on formulating social media policy state that "it is up to the employees to understand the impact of their social media activity on the organizational reputation". HRMC believes that right policy formulation regarding use of social media in the workplace will help to ensure that employees can add their input into the policy, which will in turn increase the overall awareness and acceptation of the organizational policy (Sloop and Gunn 2010). It is very important for the organization to understand the usefulness of the employee feedback regarding organizational social networking policy (Waymer and VanSlette 2013). Otherwise, it might have an immense adverse impact on the organizational health and culture. According to a survey by HRMC, it is important for organizations to understand the employee perception on the use of social networking sites before implementing any policy regarding this (Teitel 2012).     

The acceptable use of policy has certain type of behaviors that employee associated with the organization must have to display (Schmidt and O’Connor 2015). For example, it is ideal to illustrate British telecom policy regarding use of social networking at the workplace. The policy of British Telecom is mostly related with the issues of human resource management. The matters related to social media use are classified under security measures. Hence, the policy is integrated with security policy of the organization. Human Resource policy sate that online conduct is similar as offline conduct and many things that employee thinks is private but actually it is not. However, there is certainly a line between employees professional and private lives.

Importance of Policy for Organizational Social Networking

With the improvement of information communication technology, it provides a greater scope for the organizations to monitor their employees in workplace (O'Connor and Schmidt 2015). New methods like video monitoring, web and email monitoring is implemented in organizational practices. Furthermore, the increase in the use of social media has tempted the companies to monitor their employees’ social media activity. This causes the issue that employers might use personal information specially information regarding their life outside the workplace against their job performances.

According to Jacobson and Tufts (2013) employers concerns over the organizational security is somewhat justify some degree of monitoring. Hence, companies need to keep it balance and fair about employee monitoring. Lucero, Allen and Elzweig (2013) state that fair approach of employee monitoring must have following approach:

Necessity Principle: employee monitoring only need to be taken place where organization needed to prevent defamatory or illegal acts and consideration should be given to other counter-productive efforts of monitoring. Hence, employee monitoring outside the workplace is not been considered under the necessity principles.

Finality Principle: monitoring of employees in the organizational structure need to have well defined specific purpose

Proportionality Principle: the degree of the employee monitoring have to be proportionate to the expected harm of the activity that organization intended to prevent.

Transparency Principle: organization must completely aware the employees about what the organization monitors, what kind of approaches they took and what is the reason behind employee monitoring.

International Labor Organization (ILO) suggests organizations a way to ensure monitoring policies to keep up with these principles (Nguyen 2014). It suggests that organization needs to negotiate with the employees before implementing any rules regarding employee monitoring on social media sites. Since policies that are negotiated among the employees are more likely to be accepted and it will help the organization to maintain a healthy organizational culture (O’Leary et al. 2015). Organizational policy regarding employee monitoring on social sites does not suggest that it has the right to monitor employees personal photographs or posts (O'Brien 2011). Hence, management of the organization needs to be careful about regarding this modern issue of the organization that might have negative impact on the organization and ultimately affect the reputation of the company.

Conclusion:

The study concludes that the use of social networking sites like: Facebook, Twitter and MySpace by the employees have significantly grown in past few years. Therefore, organizations are also taking these social platforms as a source of employee monitoring. Since monitoring social accounts of the employees gives organization a chance to monitor their employees activities outside the workplace as well. Social network monitoring also enables organizations to have a close look weather its employees are part of any activities or not that might have a negative impact on the company reputation. The study identifies the importance of having a clearly stated single policy for the employees regarding employee monitoring. This will help the organization to avoid any situation like Tolu’s incident where she was caught completely unaware. The case study also highlighted the employees rights to communicate their personal views. However, it has also identified that productivity of the employee has fallen because of the use of social media platform like Facebook on workplaces. Therefore, organizations have to monitor their employees but they also have to consider the fact that monitoring employees on workplace and outside the workplace are completely two different things. Hence, organizations need to draw a line between organizational goals and employee private life so that it can able to build a healthy organizational culture.

References:

Crane, C., 2011. Social Networking v. the Employment-at-Will Doctrine: A Potential Defense for Employees Fired for Facebooking, Terminated for Twittering, Booted for Blogging, and Sacked for Social Networking. Wash. UL Rev., 89, p.639.

Delaney, J., 2013. Employer use of Facebook and online social networks to discriminate against applicants for employment and employees: an analysis balancing the risks of having a Facebook account and the need for protective legislation. Labor Law Journal, 64(2), p.86.

Drouin, M., O’Connor, K.W., Schmidt, G.B. and Miller, D.A., 2015. Facebook fired: Legal perspectives and young adults’ opinions on the use of social media in hiring and firing decisions. Computers in Human Behavior, 46, pp.123-128.

Greenhouse, S., 2010. Company accused of firing over Facebook post. New York Times.

Holbrook, E., 2011. Status update: fired. Risk Management, 58(9), p.16.

Jacobson, W.S. and Tufts, S.H., 2013. To Post or Not to Post Employee Rights and Social Media. Review of public personnel administration, 33(1), pp.84-107.

Lucero, M.A., Allen, R.E. and Elzweig, B., 2013. Managing employee social networking: evolving views from the national labor relations board. Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, 25(3), pp.143-158.

Nguyen, N.T., 2014. Employer’s Use of Social Networking Sites in Applicant Screening: An Unethical and Potentially Illegal Practice. J Bus Fin Aff, 3, p.e138.

O’Leary, P.N., Miller, M.M., Olive, M.L. and Kelly, A.N., 2015. Blurred lines: Ethical implications of social media for behavior analysts. Behavior Analysis in Practice, pp.1-7.

O'Brien, C.N., 2011. First Facebook Firing Case under Section 7 of the National Law Relations Act: Exploring the Limits of Labor Law Protection for Concerted Communication on Social Media, k The. Suffolk UL Rev., 45, p.29.

O'Connor, K.W. and Schmidt, G.B., 2015. “Facebook Fired”: Legal Standards for Social Media–Based Terminations of K-12 Public School Teachers.Journal of Workplace Rights (Sage Open), 5(1).

Schmidt, G.B. and O’Connor, K.W., 2015. Fired for Facebook: Using NLRB guidance to craft appropriate social media policies. Business Horizons,58(5), pp.571-579.

Sloop, J.M. and Gunn, J., 2010. Status control: An admonition concerning the publicized privacy of social networking. The Communication Review,13(4), pp.289-308.

Teitel, J., 2012. Fired Over Facebook: The Consequences of Discussing Work Online. Western Journal of Legal Studies, 2(2).

Thomson, N.F., 2009, January. Social networking and the employment screening and evaluation processes. In Allied Academies International Conference. International Academy for Case Studies. Proceedings (Vol. 16, No. 1, p. 41). Jordan Whitney Enterprises, Inc.

Waymer, D. and VanSlette, S., 2013. Corporate reputation management and issues of diversity. The Handbook of Communication and Corporate Reputation, pp.471-483.

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