By Robert Stitt
Many millennials are quite tech savvy and quick to post everything about their lives on social media. Sadly, many millennials are not nearly so job savvy…and post everything about their lives on social media.
When you post your feelings and frustrations online, it is there for everyone in the world to see, including your employer…and future employers (if they will still hire you). Your initial thought is probably, “Good, I want them to know how I feel, that’s why I wrote it.” This is where the problem comes in.
If there is a legitimate complaint, the company’s HR department should be your first stop. According to The Root, Human Resources can be viewed “as a conduit between the employee and higher-ups.” It is their job to understand the employment laws and keep the company out of trouble. If you are not being treated properly, it is their job to help you.
If you don’t find satisfaction in HR, it’s still not the time to start posting. Go to the company’s legal department. Before you go, however, make sure you have everything lined up. There is a large difference between a legitimate complaint and whining. The Root adds, “Documentation is key. Having co-workers on your side in the same predicament helps also. There’s power in numbers.”
Should you have a bonafide discrimination case, your local Equal Employment Opportunity Commission office (EEOC) will help you file a complaint. This is not a fast process so it will give you time to look for an attorney.
By now, you’re thinking that this is a lot of work, isn’t it easier to just post about your unhappiness on Facebook or Medium? If you remember, not long ago, that is what one Yelp employee did. The post did not lead to a better working environment, but a loss of employment.
Many companies have policies about posting disparaging remarks about the company or its employees on social media. If you live in a “right to work” state, you can be fired for just about anything at all, so it’s good to really watch your back if you live in one of those states. Regardless of where you live, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) says that venting about your employer online is cause for dismissal and is not protected speech. Besides, your first Amendment rights to free speech are between you and the government, you have no such right with a private employer.
In short, many employers check social media. If they find out that you have a poison pen, you may get fired and find it hard to get another job. If you genuinely have a grievance against your employer, there are established channels that should be taken, starting with the human resources office.