Slagging your employer off online

June 11th, 2010 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

One of New Zealand’s largest unions says the Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) is “scaremongering” when it claims employees should face legal action for complaining about their jobs on .

The Engineering and Manufacturers Union (EPMU) has come out strongly against the call from the EMA, saying that prosecuting people for what they say online comes “dangerously close” to impinging on fundamental rights, such as freedom of expression.

EMA employment services manager David Lowe said the use of social media was untested in but employers should take action if employees badmouthed them online.

“Some employees continue to say things on their social networking pages forgetting it isn’t private. Businesses must not sit back and allow their reputations to be sullied by the thoughtless comments of employees or ex-employees.”

Not much one can do about ex-employees, except to point out the obvious that slagging a former employer off in public may make it difficult for them to get future jobs.

In terms of current employees, the EPMU’s position seems rather strange. As much as I support free speech, that is not to say speech does not have consequences.

If an employer or manager posted on their Facebook site that they wanted to strangle a employee because the employee was always fucking things up, I have no doubt the EPMU would say this is outrageous and a breach of the good faith needed in employment relationships.

The same applies in reverse. If an employee is slagging off the employer, managers or even colleagues, that is a breach of the relationship.

Now having said that, an employer should not over react. If an employee is being indiscreet with their comments on say Facebook, the best approach would be to point out why this is a bad idea, and the consequences that could occur.

Now if someone has their Facebook page restricted to friends only, you can argue this is not in public. But then one presumes an employer would not get to see it. If they do, then pretty much by definition it is not private.

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13 Responses to “Slagging your employer off online”

  1. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    saying that prosecuting people for what they say online comes “dangerously close” to impinging on fundamental rights, such as freedom of expression.

    Being overheard by a co-worker in a bar claiming that your boss is a ch!ld m*lesting c*ck suck3r is no impingement on your right of freedom of expression. Neither is being overheard saying the same thing on Facebook, which is a more public forum than in the bar.

    Cue other anonymous posters like me telling people to be careful what they say in a public forum :)

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  2. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    The internet is the modern manifestation of the empty wall. The words of the revolution are being written in the cybersphere rather than on brick with a paint brush.

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  3. James Stephenson (2,191 comments) says:

    Forgetting that your boss is a “Facebook Friend” and then slagging them off on Facebook – you deserve to be sacked for epic stupidity.

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  4. grumpyoldhori (2,362 comments) says:

    Hmm, calling a boss of forty odd, a bald headed old sod is wrong :-)
    I thought the truth was a guarantee against any comebacks .

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  5. Johnboy (16,651 comments) says:

    Does this mean we will have to stop slagging the useless Pollies as they are our employees. :)

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  6. SteveO (76 comments) says:

    I often get colleagues sending me friend requests on Facebook. I always politely decline and suggest that we connect on LinkedIn instead. Likewise, I often get friends asking to connect with me on LinkedIn; I decline and suggest Facebook.

    As a result, if an employer was to raise an issue with something I had said on Facebook, I would consider it no different to him over-hearing me in a bar (which is to say I would be extremely embarrassed but it would be unlikely to change my behaviour). However, the main benefit of keeping friends and colleagues in separate social networks is that I am never likely to be asked to recommend a much loved but slightly dodgy friend or relation due to them being connected to me on LinkedIn.

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  7. Nick Archer (136 comments) says:

    Johnboy a lot of the Pollies think it is the other way around i.e. we are their employees as they can certainly punish us (with tax rises and even more draconian things)…

    I agree with your posting David I am usually am discreet enough to just code it in any Facebook Status updates in the usual ‘is looking forward to the weekend…’ as we all have the odd week that we feel like we are over it and no point in just slagging off people especially bosses/co workers on Facebook…

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  8. peterwn (3,275 comments) says:

    At an interview the applicant a bus driver slagged off at is former supervisor (a Polish person) in support of his reasons to change jobs. The HP person at interview indicated that he was just as likely to slag off at his new supervisor (a Danish person of whom I had very high regard). Result – rejected outright.

    There were instances during the mass redundancies in the 1990’s where those fortunate to retain jobs (at least so far) were very abusive to sales reps and the likes. Some of these people were subsequently made redundant, applied for jobs and found one of the interviewers were the then sales reps they had abused.

    Even more funny was the guy who upon receiving his pay packet, informed the boss he was starting a new job Monday and told him where to stick it. A year later there was a merger and he got his old boss back – for one week!

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  9. RRM (9,933 comments) says:

    IMO if your staff is writing “my boss is a c*nt” on Facebook, you already know (s)he think’s you’re a C*nt.

    If they are discrediting your products and services in a public domain, then go get em. But if they are harmlessly venting to their friends and family, GTFO and get a life.

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  10. reid (16,509 comments) says:

    I just don’t get Facebook et al.

    I mean, blogs are focused discussions and a political blog is an logical argumentative forum which is fun, for us.

    But I don’t get why people want to read about people doing laundry et al.

    I mean, what are they saying?

    Nothing, as far as I can tell.

    For no-one.

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  11. Johnboy (16,651 comments) says:

    I’m with you there reid. Its all shit this facebook crap.

    The only bastards we want to hear about doing their laundry instead of buying whole new outfits on the long suffering taxpayer after the last few days are the gouging pollies.

    Still I don’t expect they’ll be hanging much out to dry after this fiasco.

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  12. David in Chch (519 comments) says:

    I consider effectively anything on the internet (emails, blogs, whatever) likely to end up in the public domain, so I attempt to be careful (but not too careful) what I say and do.

    And I have had similar experiences where someone slagged someone off (previous boss, colleague, etc.). The attitude it displayed was one of complete lack of loyalty, consideration, etc. Inevitably, they ended up off the list of possible contenders for the position.

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  13. slightlyrighty (2,475 comments) says:

    It’s certainly one thing to slag your boss off to a friend in the pub, or over a dinner, but Facebook is a public domain. If one looks at it, it’s the digital equivalent of printing flyers and putting them up at random, except with facebook, you are putting your name on them.

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