Is It Legal to Fire Your Employee(s) Who Bad-Mouths You or Your Company on Facebook?

This CNN News video presents a recent case and brings up a hot topic of whether it is legal to fire an employee who complains about his/her supervisor or company on social networking sites. The debate was triggered when an ambulance worker in Connecticut got fired after she criticized her supervisor on Facebook and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) jumped in, stating that such firing is illegal. The company fired this worker because of her “disloyal conducts” and violation of the company’s social media policy. The NLRB, on the contrary, believes her activities are protected.

I believe every organization needs to have a social media policy in place by now. However, no matter if a work place has a social media policy or not, I do not think employees should post anything negative about their bosses, co-workers, or the company they work for on the Internet. I often hear people saying they keep their “personal lives” on social networking sites separated from their “professional lives” at work and as a result, they feel they are free to talk about anything they want. My question is if every person’s posts on social networking sites are restricted to his/her private life, why there are so many news headlines of people getting fired because of their posts about their work. If a person often “bad-mouths” about his/her work and the people around them on social networking sites, why would a company want to promote that person when s/he seems so negative about their work? A professional can be very critical about things sometimes, but quite often, a professional also offers constructive suggestions to help make changes.

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