Why Badmouthing Your Employer on Social Media Is Not a Good Idea

09/11/2013 20:30

I’ve recently noticed how many of my friends badmouth their former or current employers on social networks. Current society has a bunch of networking opportunities which are surely fun and make our life easier. But speaking badly about your employer (whether current or former), is not only a bad idea, but it can be highly dangerous. You can end up in a serious trouble and in some law systems you may even end up in jail!

 

You have freedom of speech, all righty, but we also live (mostly) in legal societies. When casually chatting about our employers, we do not realize, we can actually do something against law. My mother is lawyer and during her practice she saw many cases related to unfair competition, defamation and right of protection of own personhood. I have profoundly discussed the topic with her and I have some interesting outcomes from our discussion.

 

Let’s start with an example. Your company has recently started a new project. It is messy, bringing bad vibes to your team, you are not having fun at work and co-workers are not helpful. You end up really upset and the best idea you have is to channel it on Facebook saying: “My job is a crap, people here are idiots, this project is going to hell!”

 

You may use a different wording, but essentially you end up badmouthing your employer. Now – have you ever thought about what are the consequences of such action? Severe.

  • You are seriously damaging your profile for any future recruitment. Not only employers can always somehow access even closed profiles, but also any of your current friends can be linked to your future employment. You are not creating a good image about yourself if you constantly speak badly about your work.
  • You are violating code of conduct, ethic code or information security rules at your company. And for this you can be punished and even go to jail.

Speaking about the legal consequences, in my homeland (the Czech Republic), you may end up with the two outcomes.

  1. A civil case (which is the better consequence) – you may basically get a fine and experience some unpleasant process around it.
  2. Your case will become the subject to a criminal law which in the worst case scenario may get you in to jail for 1-3 years dependent on particular details of your case (defamation, unfair competition, protection of own personhood).

These are examples from the Czech law system; you can see similar consequences in any continental law system.

Some of you may say: ‘But what I want to say is true and there is a freedom of speech.’ All right, but remember that everything you say should be relevant and without any negative judgment like – He is mad, he is an idiot, I think he has run a black business. Criticism must be always justifiable. And, watch out! Even a positive message can be a threat. Note you are not allowed to share confidential info or anything showing commercial relations in the firm. Be careful when you are posting pictures from your offices to Facebook, writing about your next project or even sharing your experience from interviews. This can be the reason for your contract termination or it will seriously damage your career profile and jeopardize the possibility to get employed.

 

Similarly, be careful when speaking badly about your current alma mater. If you are a student, this is basically your current occupation. So badmouthing your university or teachers has exactly the same effect as badmouthing your employer.

 

Check your local legislation, dependent on local habits, there will most certainly always be some consequences for badmouthing or sharing of confidential information. Importantly, always have on mind that employers relate your former behavior to your future behavior in their company. So think twice before you share any judgmental posts on Facebook. Your future career is only in your hands.

 

Take care,

 

Petra

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