Talk About Bad Bosses Protected on Facebook and Twitter

by Easter on September 9, 2011

You work for a bad boss. Your friends at work and you are Facebook friends, so you start sharing a few comments about him or her. The boss finds out about your conversations, of course gets angry and decides to discipline you. What can you do? Interesting, the Kiplinger Letter reported that you could report this bad boss to the National Labor Relations Board. Not because he or she is not a good boss, but because social networking comments may be protected speech, just as is talking about work and working conditions in the lunch room or by the water cooler.

There is the start of a big legal mess, so let’s pull in the reins and consider two important points to make, one for the employee and another for the employer:

Employees — Think about it, most bad bosses are not going to be forgiving and overlook the fact that employees are saying negative things about them. Instead they will retaliate and make work life more difficult than it already is for you because remember, this is a bad boss.

  • Think before you speak and think before you write.
  • Don’t say negative things about your supervisor that can be overheard by others who would love the opportunity to pass your words back to the boss.
  • Leave the social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter for sharing about friends and family. If you mention work, don’t write anything negative about your company or your boss. The wrong person will see it, guaranteed.
  • If you feel you need to contact the National Labor Relations board, then it must be a serious problem that you are encountering, such as blatant discrimination. The hair on the back of many corporate necks is raised when an employee contacts a labor board. It often causes you more trouble in the long run.

Employers — First realize that employees will complain about their bosses and work  no matter how great working conditions are at the company. If it is known that a supervisor is considered to be a bad boss, then don’t ignore the problem.

  • Seek development and training to improve his or her management and leadership skills, so a bad boss can become a good boss.
  • Train all supervisors that they cannot discipline employees for a protected activity.
  • Train employees to know how destructive negative talk about the company can be when it is displayed on social networking sites. Vendors and customers will see the comments, which can lead to a negative reputation, lost revenue and can ultimately result in  job cutbacks. Employees need to understand how the negativity affects them.

It is the responsibility of both the employer and employees to keep complaining about work and bosses in check and in perspective to the big picture of the company’s mission.

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