A man who posted racist comments to Facebook has been fired after other users shared those comments with his employer.
The man, who we are not identifying because he has not been charged with a crime, made the comments over the weekend. The comments said, “F***ing n****r b****. Lynch her a**.” And “My grandfather had a great time raping your ancestors.”
A screenshot of the comments were taken by a Facebook user and shared on her Facebook page, as well as information on how to contact the man’s employer, Autumn View Health Care Facility in Hamburg.
The facility is owned by the McGuire Group and officials acted quickly. The man had been working at Autumn View for the past six months as a maintenance aide and was immediately terminated.
The facility and 1199 SEIU Service Employees International Union released a join statement, saying they were shocked and outraged by the man’s statements.
“The comments were vile and in no way reflect the character or opinions of the quality professionals that work at Autumn View Health Care Facility. The McGuire Group and 1199 SEIU have no tolerance for racism, and we are committed to a culturally inclusive and respectful work place.”
The McGuire Group and the union both say they are taking steps to ensure the safety and well-being of both residents and staff.
Local employment attorney Kevin Wicka of the Tarantino Law Firm in Buffalo says people getting fired for their social media posts is more common than one would think.
"We're seeing this on a regular basis, even in more simplistic situations where someone may post something on Facebook that contradicts what they told their employer," Wicka said.
Wicka says there's a misconception that people have a First Amendment right to say whatever they want.
"With any private employer, there is no First Amendment right. And with a government employee, it's limited as well," he said. "You can't say whatever you want."
Even if it's not you doing the talking, but is posted by a friend on your page, Wicka says if your employer has an issue with it, that could be a basis for termination as well.
"What people say on your Facebook could get you in trouble," he said. "If you're an at-will employee, you can be terminated for any reason, as long as it's not protected under the law such as your age, race, gender or disability."
Under the National Labor Relations Act, Wicka says there are some things you can say that will be protected, such as if you're complaining about workplace conditions, or wages.
He says a good rule of thumb, if you wouldn't say it at work, don't say it on social media.
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