Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Grant Thornton Principal Clarifies That You Are Allowed To Call Your Boss a D-bag on Facebook

Does your firm have a social media policy? If no, should it?

If it does, your firm would be wise not to cross the National Labor Relations Board, which has ruled in favor of workers subject to draconian policies, such as a hospital employee who called managers "douchebags." The code of conduct for the Michigan-based company "forbade gossip, encouraged teamwork, and included an employee pledge to 'represent Hills & Dales in the community in a positive and professional manner in every opportunity.'" Every opportunity including on Facebook, which the NLRB decided was too broad a net. Additionally, it violated the workers' rights to talk about their working conditions without fear of retaliation.

The good news here, for workers at least, is that you can call your boss a douchebag on Facebook and your employer can't stop you, says this guy:

If a policy "says employees cannot talk about the boss or working conditions, you probably are going to run afoul of the NLRB," warns Mark Sullivan, a principal at Grant Thornton. Meanwhile, more than 25 states have passed or drafted legislation making it illegal for an employer to ask employees or job applicants for social-media logins, and a federal law is in the works.

Not all employee speech on social networks is safeguarded. Gregory King, an NLRB spokesman, says comments "are generally not protected if they are not made in relation to concerted group activity among employees." One oft-cited case involves an Illinois bartender fired-rightly, the NLRB ruled-for posting on Facebook that he hoped his "redneck" customers choked on glass.

OK, so you can't say you hope your client chokes on their flash drive but your boss can't forbid you from complaining about your hours, or your lack of dual monitors, or any other minor gripe you may have. Still, you might want to keep your profile private and not add nosy colleagues just in case.