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Welcome to your new job. Here's how not to get fired


Welcome aboard! You're fired

The night before you start a new job, you're probably not thinking about how you can get fired.  

Before composing that clever Instagram caption for your first-day photo, you might want to think about your employer's company policy.

Can you get fired for something you write on your personal social media account? Could you get in trouble for popping a celebratory champagne with co-workers at the job site?

Welcome to your new job. Here's how not to get fired

WATCH:  Employment law is tricky, so we talked to Amy Epstein Gluck, an employment lawyer and partner at FisherBroyles, LLP,  about issues newbie professionals should know.

First thing to consider?  Your employee status.

At-will employees

Most hires in the U.S. work for employers without an employment contract. If that describes your situation, you're called an at-will employee, which "means as an employee you can quit or resign at any time for any reason, with or without notice, with or without cause," Epstein Gluck said.

But your company can do the same. Unless, they fire you based on reasons of discrimination such as gender, age or race. That's unlawful, she said.

How familiar are millennials with their rights?

From Epstein Gluck's experience, this group of young professionals wants to know their rights and are familiar with them.

"You know, being unprofessional in the workplace, being a jerk? Not illegal. You know, being a jerk because of someone's race or because somebody has any kind of disability? That's illegal," she said.

"And millennials,to me, seem to be more eager to understand the law and to understand their rights."

Welcome to your new job. Here's how not to get fired

WATCH:  Since there is so much gray area, having a strong grasp of worker rights is a good thing. One particularly gray area so-called "digital natives" might want to get to know quickly is social media.

If I post something snarky online about my employer, can I get fired?

According to Epstein Gluck, social media is a hot topic right now in employment law circles. Because the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects concerted activity among workers, what you post online about your employer may be considered protected activity under the law.

For example, you have a co-worker or two that you're friends with on Facebook, and you post about how your employer is cheap.

Protected speech?

If you get fired, you could go to the National Labor Relations Board because in that post you are communicating with co-workers about working conditions.

"Even if you're not talking to somebody specifically, even if you're the only one who posts it, if it comes out to any co-worker or can be construed thereof so that you're discussing working conditions, that could be protected speech," Gluck said.

Welcome to your new job. Here's how not to get fired

What can I do if my employer has retaliated against me?

If you have reason to believe you've been retaliated against, you might be able to make a case to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Civil Rights Act is on your side

Retaliation, according to Epstein Gluck, is the biggest source of EEOC complaints currently.

"It is as illegal as sexual harassment, race discrimination, age discrimination, all of the protected classes," she said. Retaliation is illegal under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

"It is an absolute violation if an employer terminates you for complaining about discrimination."

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However, she explained, "retaliation doesn't mean what you know it in the colloquial terms like 'they did something against me.' It has to be based upon a complaint of discrimination."

Why don't more people speak up about harassment or retaliation?

The answer is simple, she said: fear.

Fear of not getting promoted, of getting ostracized, of getting fired. But not just fear, the hassle of reporting these sensitive issues, especially if you take legal action, also takes a lot of time, energy and money, which often deters people from speaking up.

Suing takes a lot of time and [it] takes money.
Amy Epstein Gluck, Partner, FisherBroyles, LLP

Time and money

"It's easy for us to sit here and say, 'Okay, well if you're sexually harassed, report it. And then if you're fired, you can just sue.' That takes a lot of time and that takes money, and in the meantime you're out of a job," she said.

"So sometimes what we see is non-reporting."

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