Stay gainfully employed by using secure encrypted messaging to air grievances
“Mark, could you come into my office—and close the door?” Thus began the absolute worst day of Mark’s career since he joined his company 4 years ago. When he got into her office and saw Rachel from HR sitting in a chair, he knew he was doomed. Things had been going downhill for him at work for a while, but he didn’t think that anyone knew how he felt. But when Mark’s boss started talking about his negative Facebook posts about the CEO, he started mentally packing up his desk. . .
Employee privacy and social media can be a touchy subject. Crossing the line between freedom of speech and taking things too far professionally can deliver you straight into the unemployment line:
- THE “FIRE” DEPARTMENT: In 2012, a Mississippi police sergeant was let go after she posted Facebook comments criticizing her police chief—and an appeal found that First Amendment protections didn’t apply
- NOT A PRETTY PICTURE: In 2013, a man in Brooklyn, New York was fired for complaining about his pay via Instagram
- THE NON-STARTER: In 2015, a woman in Texas was fired from her new job right before her first day at work, due to a negative post she made about it on Twitter
We post online about pretty much everything these days—but when it comes to workplace grievances, should we just. . .shut up?
According to a 2010 ruling by the National Labor Relations Board, employers can’t stop co-workers from communicating together online about work-related issues. If they’re airing grievances openly via social networks though, they can be fired for their online behavior. This is why the company gave Unhappy Camper Mark the boot.
As of 2018, only 13 states (Arkansas, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin) explicitly restrict employer access to employee social media accounts. So if you live in one of these states, go forth and rant with confidence—at least for now.
Always remember that if you’re venting about your employer online or via an unencrypted messaging app though, you could be setting yourself up for drama. Or maybe unemployment. Either way, is it worth taking the risk?
PRO TIP: There are specific protections for whistleblowers—if you need to report an employer that’s doing things that are illegal, unhealthy, or that violate public policies,
consult with an attorney upfront to understand your rights.
CHECKLIST: When you’ve just gotta vent about work, do it—but be smart
- Keep identifying details about your company, team members, or managers out of your online posts (DO – “I hate my boss at the pizza parlor!” DON’T – “I hate my boss at Reynaldo’s Old-Fashioned Pizza Circus!”)
- Re-visit your online connections before posting: You may have colleagues who follow you or are connected to you on social media—and you might not even know it
- Before sending that ranty text to a co-worker, think about what could happen if they (or someone with access to their phone) screenshotted it and sent it to your manager
- To air work grievances safely and privately via text, use a secure, encrypted messaging service that destroys all traces of your messages—from your device and theirs–after they’re sent
Want to complain about work, but need to keep that sweet, sweet paycheck coming in?
Hey, we get it. Everyone has complaints about their job from time to time—but there’s no need to get yourself fired over it. (Unless of course that’s your objective in the first place. In that case, knock yourself out.)
The Dust messenger provides a safe and encrypted way to bitch endlessly about work without unintended consequences—and your messages are completely destroyed 24 hours after they’re sent. And get this: Dust even gives you the power to force deletion of your messages that are on someone else’s phone—and it prevents screenshots from being taken out of context.