Can Your Posts about the Israel/Hamas War Get You Fired?


I got pulled into the HR manager’s office Friday, handed screenshots of my last three Facebook posts, and told I needed to take them down. She also said I needed to stop posting any  comments about the Israeli/Hamas conflict. Apparently one of my coworkers complained about my posts.

I can’t believe I’m asked to take down posts I create under my own name, on my own time and using my own equipment. I don’t see that it’s any business of my employer. I’ve worked in this organization for two years and my employer has never had issues about anything I’ve posted.

The HR manager told me I was being “asked nicely to comply” because my posts were making others “uncomfortable”. We argued and one of the statements she made really bothered me. She asked, “Is it really such a big deal to delete these posts?”  

My answer is “yes.” My employer doesn’t own me 24/7. I can’t sit on the sidelines when people are dying. Isn’t there some protection for what I post on social media? What can my employer do if I refuse to stop posting?


You raise an important issue. The October 7th brutality against Israelis and the airstrikes against refugee camps killing Palestinians civilians has moved many to voice their views on social media.

Employers can fire or discipline you

What can your employer do? Plenty. Private sector employers have wide latitude in disciplining or firing employees who post controversial comments, particularly if those remarks create a hostile work environment for other employees or compromise the employer’s reputation, mission, products, services, or values.

Employers have fired employees for posts about the war

Multiple employers have fired employees who’ve posted their views concerning the Israeli/Hamas war and related issues. The Illinois comptroller’s office fired their legal counsel when she posted antisemitic comments even though she apologized to the person with whom she’d exchanged the comments,   Penske Media fired their top editor after he posted an open letter calling for a cease-fire and blaming Israel,’s%20editor,firing%2C%20are%20still%20playing%20out.&

Rhode Island Governor McKee fired a staff member for making public comments on the Israel-Hamas war, Apple fired an employee who called Zionists murderers on social media posts, eLife removed their editor-in-chief after he retweeted a story calling out indifference to the lives of Palestinian individuals, Multiple Harvard and Columbia law students who publicly criticized Israeli actions had their job offers revoked,

Social media protections

While the National Labor Relations Act protects employees who create social media posts to discuss issues related to working conditions, the Act doesn’t protect personal political views or posts about the Israel/Hamas war if they are hateful, defamatory or incite violence.

Employment at will

Further, all U.S. states other than Montana are at-will. This gives employers the freedom to terminate employees for any or no reason unless the employee has employment or union contract rights, or the employer violates public policy. Public policy violations occur when an employer discriminates against an employee due to their membership in a legally protected class such as age, sex, or religion, or retaliates against an employee for exercising protected rights.

Off-duty conduct

Although twenty-five states have regulations protecting employee rights for off-duty conduct including political speech, twenty-five other states lack these laws.

HR needs to balance both your and your coworkers’ rights

You left a key issue blurred when writing me. You said the HR manager told you your posts were making others uncomfortable. Were your posts hostile, derogatory, inflammatory, or violent. Or were they simply expressing your anguish over what happened to Israelis on October 7th or to what’s happened since, and is still happening to thousands of Palestinians and Israeli innocents? If the latter, HR ordinarily wouldn’t say one employee’s “discomfort” is a strong enough reason to make another employee stop posting—on his/her own time.

What this means to you

Here’s what this means to you. You get to decide what you post.

I completely understand why you might want to post. On October 17th, moved by the Hamas brutality and in response to a reader question, I posted about the Israel/Hamas Conflict, I’ve written three posts since, and if I were to write another post, it would be with sympathy for the Palestinians who are suffering so greatly as well as the Israelis who’ve been put in such an untenable position. As you’ve said, none of us can sit on the sidelines when so many innocents face such tragedy.

Meanwhile, your employer gets to decide whether your posts create a hostile environment for other employees or damage their public image, run counter to their organization’s values, or might cost them clients or customers.

(c) 2023 Lynne Curry, PhD, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

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9 thoughts on “Can Your Posts about the Israel/Hamas War Get You Fired?

  1. Great points and examples, Lynn. One thing many people don’t seem to understand is freedom of speech does not equal freedom from consequences. You can post whatever you want, but there may be consequences from one’s employer. Some people may decide that this issue is important enough to them to risk being fired. I find that it’s much more important how we vote, or the letters we write to our representatives/senators. Social media posts often spark heated debate, but rarely change minds. I find it’s often not worth posting about highly charged political issues on social media.

    1. All good points. You’ve captured what I was trying to say in my closing paragraph. And I like that you reminded everyone of clear, clean actions they can take.

  2. Well, I guess it’s now nearly ‘official.’ We now have a Society of ONE! Uh, well, I guess that really it’s actually a Society of 331.9 Million Single People. All in control of the remaining 331,999, 999 people. And it’s insane. Employers are as much held hostage to/by this as you and I are.
    Your statement “…your employer gets to decide whether your posts create a hostile environment for other employees or damage their public image…” is not entirely correct; they actually may have THAT authority. But, as this case is clear, the employer is as much a victim/hostage of the perception and attitude of the dissenting employee as the writer of the question. One employee objected to the comment made by another employee – and the ENTIRE COMPANY is being held accountable or restricted!
    What if the writer counter-argued that they were equally put off by the apparent ‘support of the actions of the perpetrators’ as the complainer is of the writer’s opinion.
    STALEMATE! And a complete silencing of personal opinion – that 99% of the company could collectively be in favor of.
    I find this entire societal standoff reprehensible. More so than the reprehension that I feel when an individual affront is made. It is a throttling, a SILENCING of individual opinion. Which, I believe, is contrary to Federal law.

    We’ve reached the point the ANYTHING said by ANYONE, if taken wrongly, not understood, or is in deference to the attitude or opinion of ANYONE ELSE becomes a ‘topic stopper’ and ends any discussion, mediation, attempts to diffuse, rebut, alter, change or fix the perceived problem. The current federal political standoff by ONE LONE SENATOR holding up months and hundreds of military promotions with his SINGLE NO VOTE is another example of the insanity our society has regressed to.
    Having said that, I find it heinously ironic that if someone doesn’t agree with my comments on this, or finds them affronting, they, too, (these comments) would and could become a whole new issue we can’t talk about.
    This entire subject reminds me of two ‘principles’. One, the Peter Principle – whereby a situation advances and progresses to the point of completely overwhelmed, can’t do right with any move. And the other being “Catch 22” – whereby doing the wrong thing can be justified by the results, and doing the right thing (if there is such a thing, with anyONE being able to protest and stop the entire process) cannot produce results.

    One other inane example pops to mind. The country song “I was looking back to see if you were looking back to see if I was looking back to see if you were looking back at me!” Because if YOU caught ME looking back at YOU, YOU might take offense and report ME for leering and…Stalemate! It sucks!!!
    It’s a good time to be 73 – I know more today that I don’t want to be here in another few years. The ‘progression’ of all of this bickering and antagonism to this point has been sickening and a severely depressing change.
    Whatever happened to “live and let live”, and “Society as a whole”? That’s not saying that all was/is right and nothing’s wrong. But when NOTHING is right because a single person believes it to be wrong…we’ve got a problem; and we do have a problem.

    1. Dan, you make good points. I agree that the person made “uncomfortable” shouldn’t be allowed to stop another from posting — unless the comments are vicious. So many HR people use HR-speak, with words like uncomfortable. Still, I agree, no one person should rule the airwaves.

  3. This happened where I work to a couple people. Each were on polar opposite ends of the Hamas/Israel conflict. While it sucks that someone can lose their livelihood for publicly expressing a view on something super important to them, that’s just not always going to be a saving grace. Even back during the pandemic, one person was fired for expressing support for BLM on twitter and another in the same organization was let go a week later for condemning it.

  4. What a shame that so much of our daily lives has degraded to a BLACK OR WHITE, LIKE IT OR HATE IT degree.
    Kind of like politics – Partisan Politics has Poisoned and Pollutes the Political Process to the Point of Paralysis. Personal opinions and Positions have Poisoned discussion and concerns to the Point of intimidation against speaking.
    People need to lighten up!

  5. Balanced…will never happen. There are EXTREME views on each side of each issue. Unfortunately, those EXTREMES have become more EXTREME and polarized as the years have passed. Evidenced by the politics of all things, and the serious and obvious Great Divide between the peoples of our city, state and nation, and society as a whole.
    I can only see ‘balance’ achieved when the extremes on each side simply accept that the ‘other side’ is waayyy over there, and not anywhere near here. This needs to occur while looking at/from each side. And then, each of those sides need to accept that THEY are looking across an abyss that THEY ARE PART OF CREATING by being intractable and not willing to negotiate or capitulate toward a ‘closer’ position, nearer the middle.

  6. My first thought on reading the headline was Yes. End of story. Employees cannot always expect privacy protection in employment situations.
    Reading further–first, the whole post, and second, the responses so far to the post–I have to say more is at issue here than employee rights at work. It is troubling that, as a couple others have said, that ONE employee’s “discomfort” was allowed to overtake other considerations. The employee was complaining, apparently, about the poster’s PERSONAL social media, created off work time, and on the poster’s personal equipment. The employee could simply mute, delete, unfriend the poster from the employee’s social media. If what really is happening, though, is that discussions of Hamas/Israel/Palestinians is happening at work and getting vocal, partisan, and uncomfortable, that is a different situation. To me, if that is the case, the employer has a strong case for prohibiting these kinds of discussions, whatever side is taken, in order to assure a better work environment. As with many “we listened to the employees, and that is why we are going to fire this person, it’s an employee rights issue” kind of claims from the employer, my default assumption is that it’s probably a cover story on the employer’s part. They have been looking for a way to get rid of this employee for some time and now they have finally found it. They don’t really care that much about employee complaints, except if they “go viral” and go public. But it sounds good to say that [for once] they listened to an employee. It just isn’t exactly true.

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