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Can You Be Fired for Something Your Spouse Does?

Many people have had at least one experience where something their spouse has done makes them cringe. It happens to the best of us, and sometimes we say the wrong thing or misjudge a social situation, even when we mean well.

We’ve all had cringe-worthy moments at one time or another, and sometimes those moments are caused by people we love dearly.

But what if your spouse’s words, intentional or unintentional, are directed at your employer?

Can a misstep get you into serious trouble in the workplace?

The simple answer is, “yes.”

If your spouse goes public with his or her criticism or disapproval of your employer, it is possible you could be held accountable. It’s not fair, but in many instances it’s within your employer’s rights to take action against you.

What gives your employer the right to fight back is the concept of employment at will. At-will employment applies to employees who are not working under a contract or bargaining agreement, and do not live in Montana (which isn’t an at-will employment state).

At-will employment allows you to quit your job at any time for any reason, and it also allows your employer to terminate you at any time for just about any reason, as long as it’s not a reason that is protected by discrimination laws.

What If My Spouse’s Words Were Justified?

Of course, there are plenty of instances in which it’s perfectly understandable for a spouse to complain about his or her husband or wife’s work environment. And he or she is free to speak out about these concerns - but that doesn’t mean you won’t be punished for it.

The exception is if your spouse also works for the same employer, and he or she reports or objects to something illegal going on within the workplace, such as discrimination or harassment. If you are fired because of this it may be considered illegal retaliation.

Handling Social Media

One of the biggest areas of concern when it comes to what people say is social media.

Even if your company lacks a policy in place concerning your off-the-clock social media behavior, your spouse is not protected. You can be fired if your spouse goes on a social media rant about how bad your work environment is or how poorly you’re treated.

The bottom line? Even if you think your employer will be understanding or that you can smooth things over after your spouse goes public with your workplace complaints, it’s better to keep those opinions off social media.

No matter how bad your work environment might be, it doesn’t make you look any better if you or your spouse are complaining on social media. If something illegal is occurring in your workplace, you need to take appropriate legal action. And if the things you’re dealing with are not illegal, do what you can to remedy the problem instead of taking to social media to complain about it.

Keep in mind, anything you say or your spouse says on social media is there for all the public to see it, and if a future potential employer sees it, it could affect their desire to consider you.

For a look into how some of the country’s largest companies deal with social media use, check out this article from

For more information or to schedule a consultation to discuss your rights in the workplace as they pertain to social media or anything else, contact Borrelli & Associates, P.L.L.C.

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