The story about Kellyanne Conway's husband criticizing her boss, President Trump, on social media made me think about an issue that arises off an on in my employment practice: whether you can be fired for something your spouse does. If you are one of my regular readers, you probably aren't surprised that the answer is: of course you can.
Unless you have a contract or collective bargaining agreement, or unless you live in Montana, you are probably an at-will employee who can be fired for any reason or no reason at all. If your spouse does something that ticks off your boss, you can be fired for that.
Fair? No. Legal? Probably.
Yes, there are some exceptions. If, for instance, your spouse is also a coworker and reports or objects to discrimination, unpaid wages, or something illegal, then retaliating against you would be illegal retaliation against your spouse. However, few laws protect employees when their spouses are not coworkers.
Even states that have laws prohibiting employers from firing employees for legal off-duty activities probably don't protect you for your spouse's off-duty activities. So, while your employer can't fire you for, say, going to a wild party, they can probably fire you for your spouse going to the same party. If your spouse posts something that ticks your boss off, then even these very broad laws probably don't protect you.
Not only do you have to be careful what you post, but you need to make sure your spouse does the same. Social media posts are forever. Your spouse and you should never post anything you don't want on the front page of the company newsletter.
Have a general question about employment law? Want to share a story? I welcome all comments and questions. I can't give legal advice here about specific situations but will be glad to discuss general issues and try to point you in the right direction. If you need legal advice, contact an employment lawyer in your state. Remember, anything you post here will be seen publicly, and I will comment publicly on it. It will not be confidential. Govern yourself accordingly. If you want to communicate with me confidentially as Donna Ballman, Florida lawyer rather than as Donna Ballman, blogger, my firm's website is here.