Trending on the Job: Viral Meets Confidential in the Retail Industry

Employee terminations revolving around objectionable social media material have become a commonplace appearance in local news outlets. Headlines tend to revolve around employees making inflammatory comments rooted in racism, homophobia, or threats of violence--especially in the law enforcement and healthcare industries. However, we’ve noticed a trend in retail that revolves around a different reason for termination: breach of confidentiality. 

Here’s what we mean:


A clothing store employee was fired after going viral on TikTok.

The employee, who worked as a loss prevention specialist, was fired from Ross for a video he posted on TikTok, purportedly satirizing the seriousness of his job. After the video went viral, the corporate office asked him to delete it, which he declined to do. Ostensibly, Ross found that the video violated policy. This incident is a telling illustration of why having a social media policy is crucial to the health and wellbeing of a workforce. Not only is it imperative to develop a clear policy, but it’s also important to take time to educate employees on what the policy means for them. Prioritizing policy awareness can, in turn, reduce the number of fireable incidents and help to mitigate high turnover rates.

A salesman was fired for posting his paycheck.

In another incident, a top salesman at Lacoste was fired for posting a photo of his paycheck to prove he was a “helluva salesman.” for breaching the company’s confidentiality policy. Unfortunately, it perfectly illustrates that having a policy in place for social media is so much more than monitoring intolerance. Breaches of confidentiality not only leak private data to the public (and perhaps more importantly, competitors), they can dampen a company’s reputation. A well-composed, well-implemented social media policy includes company values, culture, and codes of conduct and extends that to digital life. 

Brand risk for big-box and online retailers 

Big-box and online retailers are experiencing a trend of their employees going viral for “exposing” workplace conditions or practices. Warehouse workers, retail associates, counter-service employees, and baristas were dismissed for creating content while on the clock at their workplace, exposing internal processes. While warehouse retail giants like Walmart and Target actively seek visibility through viral content and influencer marketing, internal and influencer programs are closely vetted and curated to meet marketing standards. Exposé-style videos compromise confidential information and jumpstart PS crises. Light and innocent content can still place brand identity outside of internal control, creating more work for everyone, especially marketing and HR teams. 

Looking for more information on social media screening?

Retailers are increasingly becoming aware of the far-reaching influence of their own employees’ social media presence. Luckily, social media screening is a solution that can weed out bad candidates and monitor social media as needed. Social Intelligence helps businesses mitigate these brand risks by taking proactive steps to screen their employees and prospective employees’ publicly available online information.