Employees Get Away With Calling Their Supervisor a Jerk, and Worse. What’s the Real Story?

Question:

We have two employees who post their grievances about their supervisor on Facebook to each other and the world at large.

We understand that laws give them the freedom to complain about their supervisor to each other, but they post photos of his face next to mocking statements and photos in which they’re wearing our company’s logo, thus bringing our company’s name into their private venting. Does this give us an avenue for terminating these employees?

Answer:

No – unless they’re discriminating against or harassing their supervisor because of his age, sex, race, religion or another protected category.

The National Labor Relations Board and Act, the same regulatory agency and legislation that gives employees the right to air their grievances to each other concerning wages and working conditions without fear of employer retaliation, states that employees have the right to use their company’s name and logo when engaging in this activity.

You can better protect your company from reputation damage with a well-written social policy that tells employees they have the right to voice concerns to each other and on social media but asks them to do so in a manner that doesn’t damage the company’s reputation.

Alternatively, you might deal with the real issue.  

Do you have a Darth Vader supervisor you need to train? Someone who so frustrates employees they use the only outlet they have available – venting?

Or do you employ two immature individuals who need to grow up? Could you coach them?

Or could you mediate the issues creating the barrier between these two and their supervisor so you don’t need to worry about legal measures?  

What’s the real story?

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2 thoughts on “Employees Get Away With Calling Their Supervisor a Jerk, and Worse. What’s the Real Story?

  1. Great insights here. I know about the NLRB and concerted activity–discussing workplace conditions in public fora–but it seems to me I’ve also heard of cases where simply complaining about people you work with isn’t considered concerted activity and therefore isn’t protected activity. However, as you’ve note din other postings, when considering disciplining or firing employees for bad behavior, a host of other considerations apply–such as do you already have policies about this in place and are employees aware of and advised of these policies, and what kind of notifications, write-ups, reprimands, or other conditions or stages might apply.

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