Posted by & filed under Human Resources, IS ethics, Social Media.

Description: The  National Labor Relations Board has issued a complaint against a Connecticut company for firing an employee after she posted critical, derogatory comments about her supervisor on Facebook.


Date: Nov 10, 2010

The labor relations board argues that workers’ criticism of their bosses on social networking sites like Facebook is generally “a protected concerted activity.”    “You are permitted to talk about terms and conditions with employees or anyone else, it’s public because you are protected under the National Labor Act,” says Jonathan Kreisberg, the board’s regional director in Hartford, Connecticut.   Click here for rest of story

Questions for discussion:

  • Do you feel employees should be held accountable for their participation on social networking sites?
  • What topics are inappropriate for employees to be discussing?
  • Should employers be held to the same standard as employees in relation to social media sites?

18 Responses to “Labor board: Facebook vent against supervisor not grounds for firing”

  1. Mary Elizabeth Telfer

    I think that if you write things on the internet, or on facebook, you should be willing to say those things to the other persons face, whether it is your boss or your best friend. Saying nasty, rude or possibly untruthful things about a person can have large repercussions and I don’t think the girl thought about that before she wrote her thoughts out on facebook. Yes, it is her personal site, but if she would have gone up to her boss and said these things, dont you think she would have been punished anyways? I don’t think it matters where she said the things that she said, I think it matters that she said them, they were rude, and unpleasant, she had either a bad attitude or didn’t like her job or something like that, so she was fired, and now she is trying to make it about facebook, and its not. Its about saying things that she wouldn’t have said to her boss’ face and she got caught doing it behind his/her back and now she has to deal with the consequences of not going through the proper channels to file a legitimate complaint.

  2. Crystal Ursuliak

    I think it is definitely inappropriate to talk about other employees on social network sites such as facebook or twitter. I don’t think it’s the mature thing to do. And your friends don’t want to look at your status update about how horrible your boss is. Posting unsuitable comments about other people in general has its repercussions. If you’re not happy about something at work then approach the right people to deal with it, don’t make it aware to the public. That would be the respectful thing to do. The company may not be able to fire you for the rude comments about a boss or co-worker, but it reflects badly on your character and they will probably find something else to fire you for.

  3. Kristie Halbert

    I think that an employee who is talking un-tastful thing about either their employer or other employees within a company should be held accountable for these actions, even when on social networking sights. Social networking sights such as facebook are not private and very easliy to access. I think more than anything it makes that employee look bad and shows their true colors. If you dont enjoy the company you are working for or the people at that company take it into your own hands by leaving the company, dont publicly bash other people and the company. I think it is definetly something that will come back to hurt you in the end. I have seen this happen before with a past job. An employee continually complained about that job and how unhappy she was with it. The boss was given this information from another worker and she was fired due to it.

  4. Claudia R

    Personally I wouldn’t speak about my colleagues or my boss in Facebook, all the more so if what I am writing is something bad about them.
    People should keep in mind that there is nothing private in social networks such as Facebook; sooner or later the interest people will get to know it.
    On the other side I would say that an employer should not based his decisions about firing somebody or not only on information got from a social network. Of course they should take into account the fact that it isn’t worth to fire a very valuable worker even if his behavior on social networks is not the best one. Nevertheless it is completely understandable that if employers or co-workers feel offended because of anything an employee wrote on Facebook the working relationship will never do the same again.
    This article made me reflect on the extent to which social networks are curtailing our privacy.There is no more distinction between our private and our “public” life; that’s why I am convinced that when you post something on Facebook you should do it with the awareness that everyone will know about it.

  5. Paul Quick

    I believe that employees should be held accountable for their participation on social networking sites. I believe that the world would be a better place if people were held more accountable for their actions. It seems as if people walk around doing whatever they want and expect nothing to happen. People need to be aware that their actions have consequences.

    I believe that his problem could be solved with communication and information. What I mean by that is, people often post things on their Facebook or Twitter as a way to vent, not necessarily meaning to do harm. The employer should explain how serious these actions are, and the implications that could arise for the firm, and the organizational culture. Employers should also be held to this standard, as their actions could be equally as damaging for employees.

  6. Paige

    Employees should be held accountable for the things they say and do on social networking sites such as Facebook because although some of your stuff is suppose to be private, it is more or less a public forum for people to interact with others. If you are putting something on there that you wouldn’t want your boss or colleagues to see then you shouldn’t be putting it on there at all. The boss may not be able to fire the employee for saying certain things about them or colleagues but it makes them look bad and disrespectful. This may also make the company look bad for all the people who can see what is written

  7. Trevor Hincks

    Reading this case reminds me of our conversation in class about business ethics. Obviously, making comments such as these about an employer is unprofessional, especially on a social networking website like Facebook. As we discussed in class, it would be one thing to say something behind closed doors, but it is completely different to be making these comments in a public setting, like the internet. It seems almost like common knowledge that anything posted on Facebook will be transmitted to not only the people who you intended it to reach, but also many other people as well. Personally speaking, getting let go for something like this happening would be better than having to face your employer sheepishly the next day at work.

  8. Mahreen

    I definitely agree in this one that such negative comments about your employer should not be advertised on a social networking site such as Facebook. By doing that, you are just instigating trouble. In other words, if it was meant to be private, you should not post it on Facebook as it is like your making a public announcement where all your colleagues, friends, or even your employer could pretty much see that information and i believe that is pretty disrespectful and definitely would bring down your company’s rep if anything. Therefore, i do believe that employees should definitely be held responsible for such actions.

  9. Marlo McAdam

    I do feel like employees should be held accountable for their actions, even when they are posted on social networking websites. If there are companies that are looking towards these types of websites when hiring new employees, what would stop them from using the same information when firing their existing employees. Using social networking sites as a place to bash people is not only a problem for companies but so many other issues, but for someone that obviously didn’t enjoy her job to be upset that she got fired and now a labour board is getting involved seems ridiculous and a bit of a waste of time.

  10. Laura

    I believe employees should be accountable for their actions on social networking sites. By posting negative comments online on your own personal page, it shows that you are immature and unwilling to discuss and fix the problem directly. Technology allows people to say things and write things that would not have normally been revealed to the public in such a broad, open way. Posting negative comments on social networking sites such as Facebook will not only make yourself look bad but also make the company you work for look bad. I also believe that employers should be held to this same standard. They are ambassadors for the company and should behave as such no matter where they are.

  11. Alyssa Brink

    I strongly believe that employees should be held accountable for what they post on social networking sites. Yes, Souza does have the right to express her own feelings but at what expense to another person. Social networking is a major part of society today and a huge chunk of people use it and can access what people say. Souza’s defamation of her boss is unethical. Because of her comments (whether they are somewhat true or false, it doesn’t matter) people may see her boss as some crazy person and not want to work there. Also, when I go on facebook it is annoying to see people updating their statuses with negative, rude remarks. And I’m sure there are other people out there that feel the same. Not many people want to read someone’s status bashing their boss or another person; it just makes them look really immature.

  12. kaydree schoenroth

    I think employees should be held accountable for their participation on social networking sites. They may not intend for the things they post on these sites to be seen by certain people but chances are they will be. If people choose to join a site which is open to anybody to see they should realize that it is not going to be private. Bashing employers or employees on these sites or in a public place is not appropriate. If individuals have issues with fellow employees or employers it should be discussed and dealt with in the work place. This prevents job termination or legal issues. Employers should be held at the same if not higher standard as employees in relation to social media sites because they are supposed to be the “leaders” in the workplace.

  13. Lauryn

    I believe that employees should be held accountable for the information that they post on Facebook. In my opinion I don’t think that anyone should post information on sites such as Facebook if it is something that they do not want the whole world to know. There is a time and a place to express your feelings about your boss, however Facebook is not the place. Whether or not she should have been fired over the matter, I am still undecided about. Part of me wants to agree that she should have been fired, because she should not have posted those comments in the first place, but the other said of me says that she maybe should have just got a warning of some kind. However, I don’t know the whole situation, and if I had more facts I would have a better idea of whether I agree or disagree with the punishment.

  14. Amy

    I don’t think it is a very good idea to post bad things about your boss or anyone for that matter on facebook, because facebook can be publically accessed anyone can read this. Posting comments on facebook, a social network, is like posting a sticky note on the office bulletin board, everyone can read it and if something unacceptable is posted on that board you can face repercussions. These things shouldn’t be posted unless you are willing you take responsibility for your actions it’s just as bad as your boss or friend or anyone overhearing you talking about them behind their back. People have to start to realize is that the internet is a very public place, what you put out there you might as well scream down the hallways. On another note, why would this woman want her job back now? After being dismissed after what she feels is being treated unfairly, why would she want to return to a place of work that she thinks treated her badly, does she really think it is going to be a good idea to go back to a workplace, with a boss that she had bashed numerous times and to a job that she has been fired from once already. She should take responsibility for her actions, even if she was wrongfully fired, and find herself another job, although maybe she isn’t a good employee to anyone and that is why she is fighting for this job back!!

  15. Kace Warner

    I think its pretty cowardly too trash your boss over facebook, however i dont think somebody should be fired for it. If your boss is your facebook friend though, i dont think its very smart for you to be beaking him, however if he finds out because he is looking at your profile when your not friends, well then i think hes invading your privacy, and has no right to fire you for your opinion, however i dont think its a good idea, to beak him in the first place. why put yourself in that position in the first place? I think its best just not to talk about people through facebook updates, however, i feel like you shouldnt be held accountable for it, because it seems like its an invasion of privacy in the first place.

  16. Joana H.

    According to my opinion, workers shouldn’t be held responsible for participating in social networks per sé since this is their personal choice. Moreover I think that adding your boss among your friends is not really a brilliant idea, since you should keep work and private life separated, and since Facebook is a kind of journal for people, but public, where you write whatever in whichever moment and unfortunately about whoever. This is what I find something they should be held accountable for, because discriminating, denigrating and offending on Facebook is public for all of those which are your friends and therefore is like being in an open place, e.g. in the street, and this can and should be considered severely and legally liable. This behavior is, in fact, more derogatory than one might think at a first glance, because it hurts not only the supervisor’s personal reputation (because of relatives and friends see the comments), but also the professional one, since it’s probable that s/he also has other collegues/bosses among the friends. Moreover it’s probably not a nice thing for the worker’s friends too, especially after having seen the consequences.
    Therefore, although it’s legal to talk about work conditions, it shouldn’t be considered legal to discriminate the person, although on a fictional space, which but generates lots of “real” consequences.

  17. Dave S

    I believe that an individual should be held accountable for his or her comments on facebook to a certain extent. First of all, it is extremely immature and cowardly to trash one’s boss on the internet in the first place. This not only informs a boss that an employee is talking negatively about them, but also the maturity and amount of respect that one holds for others. I, personally, would not want someone working for me who finds it acceptable to publicly disrespect anyone, let alone their superior. As to whether or not it positively gives the right of a boss to terminate an employee, well that would depend on what is specifically said about the individual. In this case you must also take into account that this individual was not the ideal employee in the first place. This article states that there had been several complaints about the person who was fired before the slanderous comments were posted.

    Trashing your boss on facebook is not a smart idea in the first place. It is commonly known that profiles can be viewed by others not added as friends on your account. Because of this, I find it just plain common sense not to trash anyone on facebook

  18. Ling H

    I think it is inappropriate to posts critical derogatory comments about your boss on Facebook. It is an immature way of dealing with the problem. I believe that he/she should talk to his/her boss or someone in charge of the company privately about the problem. It would be awkward continuing to work at the same company after you posted negative comments about your boss on a public web site, even though your boss cannot fire you because of the comments. He would fire you sooner or later with another excuse.

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