Real HR Issues - What would you do?

- KPA HR Columnist, Kim Kavanagh

An employee is demoted because he’s a poor manager, he is demoted from a manager position and takes a cut in pay. He takes a week off to ponder his choices for employment and while he is on paid time off, he takes his campaign to Facebook.

                “I can’t believe they demoted me after all these years! The cut my pay in half and Bob (new manager) is jerk. I can’t believe I have to work for him.”

More employees chime in…

“Yeah, Bob sucks….”

“That company is so terrible; I can’t believe they have any good people left.”

The following Monday Bob comes to HR to inform them of the Facebook posts. What do you do?

 Do you:

  1. Fire everyone that posed disparaging remarks about the company and Bob?
  2. Write the employees up for violating your Social Media policy?
  3. Nothing?

The correct answer is C. You do nothing.

Why, you ask? Well, the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) has been working diligently on this exact topic.

According to the NLRB the employee in question is exercising his free speech rights under “protected concerted activity.” Based on the NLRB website, protected concerted activity is defined as “employees acting together to try to improve their pay and working conditions or fix job related problems, even if they aren’t in a union.” The employees rant on Facebook falls under this protected activity.

Now if the employee ranted, “I can’t believe they demoted me after all these years! The cut my pay in half and Bob (new manager) is a jerk. I can’t believe I have to work for him. And the widget they make is a piece of garbage and our customers shouldn’t buy it.” In a situation where an employee is defacing the company or product like this, they can be terminated for interfering with company operations.

The social media laws are a moving target and can change rapidly. If you have a specific incident or a question, be sure to reach out to your HotlinkHR Client Advocate.

Have an HR question for the column? Submit it to [email protected] for potential inclusion in the monthly KPA HR Newsletter. If your question is selected for Kim’s column, you’ll receive a $100 American Express gift card!



Kim Kavanagh is an HR Client Advocate for KPA’s HR Management product line. Kim has over 15 years of experience in Human Resource Management working for small family-owned organizations as well as national companies.  Prior to joining KPA, Kim handled all Human Resources and recruiting for a wholly owned subsidiary of Lehman Brothers in Chicago.  Kim is a certified Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and is working towards a B.S. degree in Business Administration with a focus on Human Resources at Colorado State University

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