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Another employee took a photo of me with other nurses and posted it on her Facebook page. I was terminated for violating social media policy. Is this fair?

Wednesday May 8, 2013
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Question:

Dear Nancy,

I was terminated for violating the social media policy. I do not have a Facebook account, but another employee took a photo of several nurses at the nurse’s station and, without our knowledge or consent posted it on her Facebook page. I know that unless I belong to a union as an RN and am employed by a hospital, that I am an at will employee and can be terminated for almost any reason. Except for something that would be a violation of my civil rights. How could I violate the policy when I never gave my consent or had access to the photo? Should I suffer the same consequences as the person who took the photo and posted it?

Christa



Nancy Brent replies:

Dear Christa,

Your termination is an unfortunate one, but it is difficult to discuss without knowing what your facility's social media policy says. It is assumed, though, that the policy is broadly stated and requires that anyone, including simply those who are in a photograph, can be disciplined when a photo is taken in the workplace.

You might want to review the policy carefully and determine whether you might be able to grieve the termination because of your lack of knowledge about what was going to be done with the photo. If, however, there is a strict policy that there be no cameras or smartphones used at all in the workplace, that argument may have little weight.

Also, it would be important to evaluate what happened to the others in the photo? Were they terminated as well? In other words, was the policy evenly applied to all who participated, either as one being in the picture or as one taking the picture?

If you have some doubts about how your termination was handled, a consultation with a nurse attorney or attorney in your state might help resolve your concern or provide you with some options on how to challenge the termination.

Cordially,
Nancy




Nancy J. Brent, RN, MS, JD, is an attorney in private practice in Wilmette, Ill. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal or any other advice. The reader is encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney or other professional when an opinion is needed.