Over the weekend an employee of the Texas Rangers was pretty upset about the University of Texas’ dismal performance in its 50-7 loss against Texas Christian University. I get how upsetting it is when your college team plays like, umm, plays awfully. I myself hurled a few insults at the tv screen as I watched my Ohio State Buckeyes play terribly against Indiana.
However, I realize there is a time and a place for my negative comments. I would not, for example, go to the Firm’s @WorkplaceWatch Twitter account and complain. This Texas Rangers employee apparently does not understand that. As ESPN reported, the employee released a tweet from the Texas Rangers’ official Twitter account that said “Fire Charlie. #bye,” which referred to the Longhorns’ coach Charlie Strong.
If you thought this was the action of an errant employee who did not understand how damaging the Tweet could be to the Texas Rangers organization, keep in mind that the person who sent the tweet was part of the Rangers social media team. In other words, this is a person whose job it is to post to social media in an effort to enhance the organization’s reputation.
We talk a lot about training and policies on this blog. This is another example of why it is important to have policies and guidelines for the use of social media by employees and to clearly explain that termination could result from a violation of those policies. It is, of course, likely that the Texas Rangers do have such policies and that this person was trained in those policies. As Forest Gump’s mom noted, “Stupid is as stupid does.”
When drafting such policies, employers should be mindful that some jurisdictions, like Colorado and New York for example, have laws that prohibit employers from terminating an employee for engaging in lawful off-duty conduct unless the conduct falls into an exception under the laws. Terminating the employee in this situation is easier since the employee used the official company Twitter account to send the tweet, but employers in jurisdictions that have lawful off-duty activities statutes need to be careful before acting on a negative tweet.