Inappropriate tweets may require a measured HR response

With the right procedure, companies can address a problematic employee tweet through an investigation.

With the right procedure, companies can address a problematic employee tweet through an investigation.

An article for SHRM recently looked at the issue of problematic social media posts in the modern workplace and what HR response is best. The ease of use offered by Twitter specifically makes it dangerously simple for employees to say something potentially problematic for the employer. However, there are certain procedures that need to be followed in such a situation to make sure companies handle them tactfully.

Because of the severity of many Twitter-related scandals, companies could be conflicted about how to approach an employee when something is discovered that puts the business' reputation in jeopardy. One company is even creating an application designed to let social media users delete compromising statements for their social media accounts.

While the SHRM piece gives multiple examples of employees who were dismissed immediately after offensive tweets, it also argues that an investigation into the situation is necessary for proper response. Looking closer at the circumstances that led to a tweet and what it actually means could influence the possible actions employers may take. In addition, some tweets can be protected under the National Labor Relations Act if they contain certain kinds of critical content.

Sonya Rosenberg of the law firm Neal Gerber & Eisenberg told the source about these tweets, which still may look hurtful even if they are not actionable.

"If the tweet is legally protected, then, even if offensive to management, the employer should not discipline, at least not with respect to any portion of the tweet or follow-up that would likely be deemed to be protected under the NLRA," she said.

Conducting a full investigation into a problem could take more time than simply firing someone, but it will keep the company within their own guidelines and general workforce regulations. Find an HR software solution that makes correct and timely disciplinary actions easier to perform with the help of an industry consultant service.