How to avoid the arse card for having a sook online about your boss

With more and more people using social media it is becoming increasingly frequent that people get the arse card from work because of intemperate comments on Facebook or Twitter.

In the US the National labour Relations Board has said you have a right to have a sook, but there are some boundaries you need to keep within.

The right of workers to get together and moan about their bosses has been enshrined in U.S. law ever since 1935, when President Roosevelt signed the landmark¬†National Labor Relations Act. The heart of the statute, known as Section 7, guarantees employees the right to organize, collectively bargain, and¬†“engage in other concerted activities” for their “mutual aid and protection.” That basically means you’ve got permission to whine about management at a bar without getting canned.

These days, that right also extends to the (often whiny) free-for-all that is social media. In a series of reports and rulings this year, the National Labor Relations Board clarified that you are indeed entitled to log onto Facebook or Twitter and gripe about your employer without facing retribution.

There is one case that helps explain it all: 

Of course, all rights have their limitations, and this one is no exception, as attorney Philip Gordon explained in an interview with¬†Bloomberg Businessweek¬†this week. Gordon relates the fascinating case of¬†Knauz BMW, the moral of which is this: If you’re determined to make fun of your company, keep your lacerating wit focused on stuff involving your actual job.

Here are the facts of the case, as Gordon realtes them: Knauz BMW, a dealership outside Chicago, decided to throw a soiree of sorts for its customers, and management thought it would be fun to roll out a hot dog cart for the party. Its sales team argued — to no avail — that an event full of luxury-car owners needed a classier menu, and when the day came, a salesman named Robert Becker snapped some photos of the cart and loaded them onto Facebook “along with snide comments,” as Gordon puts it.

Unfortunately, Becker’s snarking didn’t stop there. Knauz BMW was part of a chain of family-owned franchises that included a Land Rover dealership across the road. In an unfortunate but sort-of-hilarious sounding incident, a customer’s 13-year-old son was allowed into the driver’s seat of a Range Rover and proceeded to barrel the vehicle over a bystander’s foot and into a pond. Becker once again snapped some photos and loaded them onto Facebook alongside his color commentary.

Becker was fired, and his case ended up before the NLRB.

As these cases often do…and then it is a lottery, at least it is in New Zealand.

Here’s Gordon’s explanation of what came next:

Becker contended that he’d engaged in protected concerted activity and shouldn’t have been fired. The NLRB decided that the post about the hot dogs was protected because it was an outgrowth of an earlier meeting with management. But Knauz argued that they’d fired him after the Range Rover incident, which wasn’t protected. It wasn’t a joking matter and it involved a customer. The administrative law judge agreed: The termination was lawful.

So got that? If you rain down vitriol over your employer via Facebook because someone didn’t take your advice on catering, you’re all in the clear. But if you mock the company for stuff that’s entirely unrelated to you, your job conditions, or your coworkers’, you may be packing up your desk. At least, that’s the case for now.

  • Hazards001

    Hahaha Reminds me of the time I was working on a major roading project here. The company I worked for was a bit of a low payer but they used to take us for a beer at the local on a Friday. One of the operators got a skinfull in him and got mouthy to a senior engineer and the site manager about what he claimed he and others had been been promised. He was getting stroppy so two of us tried to quiet him down but we got nowhere so we let him have his say.

    His say resulted in a visit from the HR manager the next day (a Saturday too) with a DCM letter for gross misconduct and I heard some kind of payout, no idea what probably his holiday pay and maybe a week in lieu of notice. Can’t say anyone missed his bullying attitude and constant moaning about terms and conditions. And that was years ago.

    • StupidDisqus

      I heard some kind of payout, no idea what probably his holiday pay and maybe a week in lieu of notice.

      Right – rather than a bill for the expenses caused to the employer for a) firing them and b) having to hire someone else. Just goes to show how anti-jobs NZ’s current laws are!

      • Hazards001

        Maybe, but you do have the 3 month pack your bags and fuck off period to fall back on today which certainly didn’t exist then. Truth is the guy knew if he took it any further he’d probably never get another job in the only industry he was skilled in. NZ’s laws aren’t anti job they aren’t perfect but the truth is if I worked for a bag of shit like you you’d likely have no teeth. hows that for some employment equality?

  • StupidDisqus

    Just more fucking leftism. Hopefully NZ doesn’t have that enshrined in law.

    Of course, the US states that are actually growing in employment are “right to work” “employment at will” states – unions have no legal status, and anyone can be fired at any time. Funny that.

    So there’s another answer to the “John Key Legacy” question: finish the job, dump the socialist “Employment Contracts Act” and its communist descendant “Employment Relationships Act” and replace it with the simple, natural, truth

    It’s the employers money. It’s up to employers what you do, how you do it, when you do it, and if or how much you get paid.

    Simple as that.

    • http://voakl.net/ Ben Ross

      Err Classic Liberalism which your

      “So there’s another answer to the “John Key Legacy” question: finish the job, dump the socialist “Employment Contracts Act” and its communist descendant “Employment Relationships Act” and replace it with the simple, natural, truth

      It’s the employers money. It’s up to employers what you do, how you do it, when you do it, and if or how much you get paid.”

      comment would refer to got left behind in the 19th Century and replaced by Social Liberalism, Neo Liberalism and now swinging back to Social Liberalism as two parties (the employer and employee) negotiate and set about “fair days work for a fair days wage” with a couple of safe guards thrown into boot for both employer and employee in this post modern day and age. But mainly even with the negotiations it still is usually he employers money. It’s up to employers what you do, how you do it, when you do it, and if or how much you get paid. – all with in the bounds of the law present

  • peterwn

    Some guy foulmouthed his current boss (Polish origin) at a job interview. Interviewers figured if he got the job he would be soon foul-mouthing his Danish boss.

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