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Could sites like Reddit cost you your job?

The explosion of social media in the last few years has given birth to a plethora of new sites that give people the world over a chance to connect with other people. Whether it's making new friends on Facebook or sharing a picture on Reddit, these types of sites are giving employers a rare glimpse into what their employees do when their backs are turned and could be turning seemingly harmless pranks into reasons for termination.

We bring this topic up to our Indiana readers' attention this week after a number of images of fast-food workers began surfacing on social-media sites like Reddit. While the pictures may depict workers doing seemingly harmless--albeit gross--pranks, many employees are finding themselves out of jobs after posting such photos. Which begs the question: can posting photos such as this really be grounds for termination?

In a majority of cases the answer appears to be yes.  From an employer's standpoint, if the behavior in the picture--or in some cases even video--can be considered unsanitary or against company policy, an employee could be terminated on those grounds.  Take for example the most recent photo of a Wendy's employee who appears to be eating a vanilla Frosty straight from the machine.  Similar to other pictures where fast-food employees have been photographed licking or even standing on food, because the employer is not privy to what happened after the photo was snapped--perhaps the machine was properly cleaned afterwards or the food was properly disposed of instead of going to a customer--an employer may be forced to fire an employee for such behavior.

As the old saying goes: a picture is worth a thousand words.  And because a majority of these pictures on the Internet are accessible by anyone, even your employer, a person may want to second guess posting a picture of a would-be prank in the future.

Source: USA Today, "Wendy's is latest to see gross photo go viral," Bruce Horovitz, June 13, 2013

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