How does the idea of respect play out in the world of social media?
It’s easy to conjure up examples of disrespectful behavior on social media, especially in the employment context. For example, an employee runs to her Facebook account and badmouths her supervisor online. I actually get quite a few calls from clients who want to punish an employee for something s/he said on social media. Generally, taking any kind of punitive action is a bad, bad idea (and often illegal, per the NLRA). So is the employer left with no tools with which to combat an employee’s social media tirade? Not quite. Check out the following two videos. Very entertaining, I promise.
The first, which you may have already seen since it’s gone somewhat viral, is an employee jamming to some Kanye West. She dances while messages flash across the screen. She complains about her job and states she wants her employer to know that, well, she quits.
The second is the employer’s response. Employees boogie to the same song, while messages roll across the screen extolling the employer’s virtues. It ends with a punchy retort to the woman who quit, saying the employer wants her to know, “we’re hiring.”
There’s a great lesson to be learned here. Employees are, in many cases, free to gripe on social media. But you can respond, so long as you are respectful and (ideally) funny. Check with counsel before attempting to go viral, but I think the employer here did a fantastic job.