Headlines were made last month when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson found out he was fired from his post by President Trump via Twitter. In addition to Tillerson, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus was also fired by the President through Twitter.
However, informally firing an employee through text message, email, or tweet is a practice that many employers have been using recently. Take Autumn Weese, an employee at a coffee shop who was informally fired after she asked to cut back her hours to pursue a master's degree. White received an email from her employer saying that they “totally understood her situation.”
However, her coworker’s began telling her that they were sorry she would be leaving the company in two weeks. Unfortunately for Weese, not only did everyone know about her leaving before she did, but her employer also told her coworkers that she quit by choice and wasn’t fired. For weeks, Weese emailed her employers but never got a response.
Is It Common, or Illegal to Be Fired Through a Tweet?
According to Dan Ryan, principal of Ryan Search and Consulting, there is no excuse for disrespecting employees in such a way when they are fired. "Especially now, if you're leading an organization, you don't need any negatives out there about how you treat people." Ryan points out that recruitment of new employees can be difficult once word of informal or disrespectful firing practices gets out.
Besides ruing an employer’s reputation, a botched firing can also take a toll on the morale of existing staff. Furthermore, employers who fail to follow the proper firing process can also make themselves vulnerable for claims of discrimination or wrongful termination.
Tracie Sponenberg, senior vice president of human resources at The Granite Group and an expert with the Society for Human Resource Management, says “there's every reason in the world not to fire someone on Twitter.” Because nothing is private these days, “oftentimes, everyone knows [you’ve been fired] before you get a chance to even talk about it."
While many say that social media is to blame for the decline in workplace civility, publicly humiliating terminations are not a new thing. Some bosses have used loud speakers to read off the names of employees who are fired, while others have told employees to take a vacation, only to fire them while they are away.
It is important to remember that employees have many different legal rights and are entitled to be terminated from their jobs in a respectful manner. If your employer has fired you through Twitter or other humiliating means, you should immediately consult with a lawyer.
At Marder Employment Law, we are committed to helping workers obtain the justice they deserve. Our legal team can review your case and determine a legal strategy that fits your needs. Let us help you today.
Contact our Hollister employment law attorney to schedule your free consultation.