ABC Auto Body is a f**** joke! Nobody should spend their money there because theyâ€™re a bunch of f**** crooks out to hose you.â€ť
An ABC Auto Body employee makes the above remarks about the company she works for in 4 different fora:
A. To a co-worker over drinks in a crowded bar.
On her Facebook page.
On her private blog.
Which, if any, of the above communications is/are grounds for discipline?
While all 4 are private communications made after work, B, C and D are worthy of discipline because of the potential harm they pose to ABC Auto Bodyâ€™s reputation.
Venting about oneâ€™s employer away from work is a time-honoured and generally harmless practice. But it becomes subject to discipline when the employee crosses the line from simply blowing off steam to inflicting potential damage to the companyâ€™s business or reputation. When is that line crossed?Â Answer: Often it depends not so much on what the employee says but where he/she says it. And, as illustrated by this Quiz, social media has made it much easier for employees to cross the line. Thus, while the employeeâ€™s remark is a direct and vicious jab at ABC Auto Body, it only becomes actionable only when itâ€™s made on social media or another public forum accessible to ABCâ€™s clientele. Accordingly:
A isnâ€™t discipline-worthyÂ because bad mouthing the company to a co-worker is more about bonding than deliberately trying to undermine the companyâ€™s business. This is true even if the employee makes the remarks in a crowded bar or other public place where they might be overheard.
B is discipline-worthyÂ because itâ€™s well established that employee communications about their companies arenâ€™t privacy-protected when theyâ€™re made on Facebook and other social media sites that are accessible to the public.
C is discipline-worthyÂ because personal blogs, too, have a wider audience than one-on-one verbal communications. True, blogs are generally less accessible than network sites like Facebook. Still, blog postings can inflict harm on business reputation, especially if the blog has a large number of followers.
D is discipline-worthyÂ for the same reason that C is.