Calling the boss names on Facebook and encouraging co-workers to complain about him are two entirely different things – so make sure your policies treat them differently.
The National Labor Relations Board is cracking down on HR policies that limit employees’ social networking comments, especially when they’re are directed to co-workers rather than friends.
On ere.net, John Zappe highlights an NLRB case against a company that fired a worker who (among other things) Facebooked that her boss was a “scumbag.” A U.S. Chamber of Commerce survey found:
… the NLRB cases and memoranda addressing social media issues pay closest attention to policies restricting ‘discussion of wages, corrective actions and discharge of co-workers, employment investigations, and disparagement of the company or its management.
CYA by making sure your firm’s social networking policies exclude NLRA-protected speech, considering whether negative comments talk about terms and conditions of employment, and who the employee is talking to — friends or co-workers, Zappe says.
Obviously, if it seeks to rally coworkers to action, it’s almost certain to be protected concerted action. Even absent a specific call to action, a discussion of such issues with coworkers will be protected.