VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — As racial tensions rise across the country, so also the number of people being fired for negative racial comments on social media.
"You are free to post racists comments on Facebook. Employers are free to not hire racists," said Virginia Beach attorney Gary Byler.
Some Hampton Roads businesses have recently fired employees for their social media comments.
Konikoff Dentistry said it fired four employees earlier this week. "We absolutely have zero tolerance for racism and offensive behavior," the dentistry explained on Facebook.
Another business in Virginia Beach, Kung Fu Tea, said it removed a manager because he "lacked judgment, as a leader, when he made an insensitive post regarding the Black Lives Matter movement."
Byler said getting fired for a racial post is a tough case to defend.
"I don't think that the folks who are being fired have got much legal rights," he added.
Byler expressed he's received several calls this week asking about the first amendment and employment rights. He explained a person's protections are limited because the state of Virginia is an at-will employment state.
"And in fact, unless you have a written contract in Virginia, you're not fired for an inappropriate comment; you're simply not rehired," said Byler.
Byler also mentioned even if you didn't post the comment, you could still get fired.
"The one case that concerns me most is that a professional woman who has been with the Mayo Insurance group for years and years was fired for what her husband posted on Facebook," said Byler.
Byler explained the answer is simple: people need to be responsible for what they post online. He pointed out there is a rule in Virginia that you can't be fired for something against public policy. But again, that's up to the court to define what that policy.