Don't Let Disgruntled Employees Drag You Down Into The Social Media Mud Pit

An organization's management can understandably feel angry, frustrated, resentful and betrayed when a terminated employee posts untrue, inaccurate or incomplete information about the termination on social media, especially when the post disparages the reputation of the organization or its leaders.

Resist the temptation to throw mud. You may just get dragged down into a litigation mud pit.

First, should the disgruntled employee bring a wrongful termination claim, the proper venue for debate is not the court of public opinion on social media, but rather the courthouse, where the parties are subject to rules of court conduct, civil procedure and evidence. A 140-character Tweet, for example, cannot possibly express the entirety of your organization's defense and is subject to misinterpretation.

Second, publishing facts about the terminated employee could lead to defamation or invasion of privacy liability such as tort liability for public disclosure of private facts; publicity that places a person in a false light in the public eye; intrusion into private affairs; or misappropriation of a person's name or likeness for a defendant's advantage.

Third, depending on what the former employee said, the comments may be protected by the National Labor Relations Act as "protected concerted activity"; for example, if they addressed wages or working conditions to which coworker social media "friends" responded.

Bottom Line:

An employer's best response is no response at all. Mute, block, hide, or ignore a post and move on to your next challenge.

Via:  Hartford Help