We all know that government employees are subject to scrutiny by members of the public. Sometimes by people they deal with who may not like them, such as a person a police officer may have arrested. Other times, the scrutiny comes from members of the community who want to hold public employees to a different standard than others.
Recently there has been a move afoot by different organizations to investigate public employees private postings on social media. This has resulted in many, many public employees, particularly law enforcement and fire fighters being complained about to their employers. The employers are are launching investigations into the officers comments made duty. Remember, if you are speaking off duty – if you are saying things that reflect negatively on your employer, you may be disciplined for it. If a government employee is making racist or discriminatory comments off duty, it can reflect on their actions while on duty and may result in an investigation or discipline.
We hope the many public employees we assist do not participate in conversations on social media that are inappropriate, but sometimes just being involved in a conversation where others are making inappropriate comments can lead to a complaint, and discipline.
If you are a government employee, we strongly suggest you review your posts and remove any links to conversations that may be misinterpreted to cast you or your employer in a bad light. Even those where you simply participated in a conversation and someone else was inappropriate.
If you think “private” chat rooms and social media groups are actually private, reconsider that view. They aren’t private and very often people are watching.
If you do find yourself facing an investigation or discipline for your social media posts, give us a call. 360-524-2009.