(WSVN) - He posted a comment about a co-worker’s bad breath on Facebook. His boss saw it and fired him. Can you be fired for expressing your opinion on social media? It’s why we have Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser to find out.

Some people are afraid of getting shocked by electricity. Some people love to be around it…

Jeffrey Allan McCarville, fired for Facebook post: “By trade, I’m a certified electrician since 2000. I love what I do. It’s great.”

Loved it so much, Jeffrey often volunteered to work double shifts at his job, day after day.

Jeffrey McCarville: “So, I worked 16 hours a day. I was a great employee, in my opinion.”

Jeffrey was a great employee ’till he wasn’t an employee at all.

Jeffrey McCarville: “And I was blindsided.”

One day while waiting for his work assignments, Jeffrey did what a lot of people do … picked up his own phone and started checking out Facebook.

Jeffrey McCarville: “And while I was on Facebook, a co-worker was talking to me and he happened to have bad breath and I felt a little offended.”

Jeffrey didn’t want to say anything and embarrass the fellow in front of his co-workers, so he went on Facebook and asked for advice, writing: “My co-worker has the worst breath. He never stops talking, and laughing, following me around. Yuk! Should I just embarrass him and tell him?”

Jeffrey McCarville: “I didn’t say the name of any specific employee. I didn’t mention the name of the company I work for. It was just a random comment.”

Jeffrey decided to not say anything to the guy, but three weeks later, Jeffrey’s boss had something to say to him.

Jeffrey McCarville: “And I said, ‘Uh, oh. What am I in trouble for?’ And they said, ‘We’re going to have to terminate your employment because of Facebook comments.'”

Jeffrey replied, “I didn’t mention any names, where they worked … nothing. So, who did I hurt?”

Jeffrey McCarville: “They handed me the employment handbook, which highlighted that evidently commenting on someone’s bad breath constitutes physical violence, which I did not understand.”

Jeffrey was amazed that saying a co-worker had bad breath on Facebook was being called physical violence.

Jeffrey McCarville: “Threats of violence, direct or indirect violence — I don’t understand how this is violent at all. It’s crazy!”

Jeffrey was told, resign or be fired, so he resigned and the company was nice enough to give him severance pay, which brings up his first question…

Jeffrey McCarville: “Can my employer terminate me for Facebook posts that are vague?”

Take charge, Howard.

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Unfortunately, for many employees in Florida, yes because Florida is a right-to-work state, meaning your boss can fire you for any reason or no reason at all. They can fire you for wearing a green shirt if they feel like it. The only exception? They can’t fire you because of your skin color, religion, nationality, disability — and in Dade and Broward — your sexual orientation.”

And now, let’s get to Jeffrey’s second point…

Jeffrey McCarville: “What is going through my mind is, ‘I can’t believe I don’t have freedom of speech. I wasn’t directly attacking anyone. Do I have freedom of speech?”

Howard Finkelstein: “You do have freedom of speech, and you have the right to say anything you want. You just don’t have a right to your job, and your employer has the right to fire you.”

Jeffrey is now looking for a job and after working for so long, he has realized days off are overrated.

Jeffrey McCarville: “Be careful what you wish for. Be glad you have a job and you get up everyday and have a sense of security.”

Need an electrician? Jeffrey is available. And if you like to say things on Facebook or any social media, not only can it cost you your job now … it could block you from getting a job. Months or even years down the road, if you have said anything or posted pictures you think a boss might frown on, you might want to delete them now.

A problem got you all a Twitter? Ready to snap the chat to your side? Post it with us. And let us provide you with a breath of fresh air.

Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

Copyright 2021 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox