Can I be fired for an inappropriate (but really old) tweet?

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Many years ago I said something inappropriate on Twitter. I took the post down. An enemy of mine saved it and has been circulating it, and when my employer found out, I was fired. I was young and stupid and took it down years ago. Is my sacking justified?

Well, I don’t know what you said so I don’t know how bad it was. But most employment is “at will,” which means companies can fire you and you can quit any time for any reason. The only thing an employer can’t do is fire you for any reason that is protected by law, such as age, race, gender and so on. That aside, I am deeply troubled by the gotcha, cancel culture. What if everything you have ever uttered privately had been recorded and played back? If anyone can say that there isn’t anything cringeworthy from their past, write to me. So I think generally we need to be more forgiving of youthful indiscretions that previously went unrecorded for posterity before social media. I am less forgiving if you post today. If you’re dumb enough to do that, I don’t have much sympathy for you if your employer takes action.

I work as a porter for a co-op building in Manhattan. One of my responsibilities is to ensure that the bike room is locked every night. Well, I forgot one night and a tenant complained that her bike was stolen. The super said I have to pay for the bike, otherwise I will lose my job. I can’t afford to lose my job so I let them deduct the money from my pay. Can they do this?

I bet it’s one of the fancy white-glove buildings. It’s always the person or place you’d least suspect. No, my friend, they can’t deduct your pay. They will have to refund every penny and more. Even if you had stolen the bike, sold it and flaunted the fact with a TikTok video, they wouldn’t be able to deduct anything from your earned wages without your consent. They could fire you. They could call the authorities and report you. What they can’t do is withhold your earned wages. Perhaps the super is unaware of the law. Talk to the co-op board. You’ll get your money back one way or another.

Gregory Giangrande has over 25 years of experience as a chief human resources executive and is dedicated to helping New Yorkers get back to work. E-mail your questions to [email protected] Follow Greg on Twitter: @greggiangrande and at GoToGreg.com.

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