Can you get fired for comments in your social networks? The Interjet case

What should the company do? According to Arleth Leal, head of Red Ring, an executive recruitment Firm, firing a collaborator for comments in his social networks can be an impulsive action, but a necessary one when the comment has a negative impact on the reputation of the company.

“It is a reality that all recruiters use social networks to look at photographs of the candidates: to know what they do and how they behave. But networks are equally important in determining a dismissal, as they are sometimes used to make comments that compromise the company or even to leak confidential Information. People forget that they are public networks”, she stated.

Although dismissals due to comments made on social networks are not included in the Federal Labor Law (LFT), they can be grounds for termination. Records at Red Ring indicate that two out of 10 people have lost their jobs for this motive, and that cases occur in large companies, where the company image can be affected.

“Even though there is no legal regulation in Mexico on the use of social networks, if the employer can prove the damage caused by the publication, there is cause for termination based on Article 47, Section 2 of the LFT. It is not so much because of the social network or the medium that was used, but rather because of the damage”, explains Ricardo Martínez Rojas, PhD, founding partner of the De la Vega y Martínez Rojas Law Firm.

According to specialists, in the absence of regulations on the use of social networks, companies must now create internal protocols through their Human Resources areas.

“The Interjet pilot may have made the comment in a personal capacity. Nevertheless, the connection between her and the airline was easily made and it will surely be a cause for dismissal or, as a minimum, for the filing of an administrative report. In order to avoid these cases, it is very important that the companies issue protocols for the use of Social Networks. To this date, we know that only two out of 10 companies have one”, said Leal.

Steps to follow after a network incident

1.- Verify that the collaborator made the posting. The company must make sure that the comment was, in fact, made by one of its employees.

2.- Inquire into the type of comment and the reason. If the collaborator complained about his immediate supervisor, it is important to listen to the two versions as, in this case, there isn’t one full version, but two.

3.- Talk to the collaborator. It is necessary to confront the collaborator to understand what motivated him to post a specific comment.

4.- Determine whether confidential Information was disseminated. The company must assess whether confidential Information was disseminated or whether the comment affects the image of the company. For example, according to a TweetReach analysis, there were 100 tweets on Interjet in one minute questioning the employment situation of pilot Ximena García; out these four were regular tweets, 70 were retweets and 26 were answers.

5.- Proceed to dismissal. If necessary, the company can terminate the employment relationship and make the severance payment required by law in order to avoid any subsequent problems. “It is not an unjustified dismissal when damage to the company can be proved; otherwise, the worker can approach the Conciliation and Arbitration Board”, said Ricardo Martínez, PhD.

Note published in Expansión, Carrera Section by Nancy Malacara