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Should Bashing Your Boss on Facebook Be Legally Protected?

Should Bashing Your Boss on Facebook Be Legally Protected?

Kathy O'Reilly | Monster's Director of Social Media Relations

March 16, 2011

What happens when the workplace and social media collide? What precedent does this now set in labor law and what repercussions will this ruling have on future employer/employee relations? And what does this mean for existing employee policies and their use of social media?

HR blogger Lance Haun recently authored an article on The NLRB-Facebook Firing Case, looking at the Four Things Employers Need To Know. Lance brings up some interesting points, in particular, does this ruling only protect union employees and is this a victory for free speech, or something else all together.

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We’d like to open up the conversation further and suggest additional questions for employers following last week’s NLRB ruling.

Social Networking: Three Questions for Employers To Consider

1. Isn’t this behavior just another form of workplace bullying or harassment?

While companies are going to great lengths to protect employees (including the boss) in the workplace, what is the employer’s role in protecting the employee being bashed publicly? If boss bashing is a form of workplace bullying, should such behavior be tolerated, let alone protected by law?

2. Are current social media policies/guidelines now at risk?

Even if employers have clearly defined social media guidelines established within their organizations, this ruling could challenge social media policies currently in place. If employees can now cite AMR vs. Souza in their own defense, existing social media guidelines may now need to be revisited by organizations.

3. What damage control and legal risks potentially lie ahead?

When a company’s dirty laundry is aired in public for the world to see, what negative impact does it have on the brand reputation of the organization, and what processes can they put in place to get back on track? If the information posted in a public online setting is libelous and slanderous, does boss bashing now put the company at risk for a potential lawsuit brought on by one of their own employees?

We suspect this is just the beginning of the discussion, and while we continue to watch how things will play out, we do predict two things in the aftermath of this current ruling:

1. Employers will be re-thinking their in-house social media policies immediately.
2. Anyone thinking about getting into social media law as a career choice will likely have excellent job security in the years to come.

This article was originally published on MonsterThinking.com.


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