The National Labor Relations Board says you have the right to bellyache about your employer online -- but there are few important limits.
The right of workers to get together and moan about their bosses has been enshrined in U.S. law ever since 1935, when President Roosevelt signed the landmark National Labor Relations Act. The heart of the statute, known as Section 7, guarantees employees the right to organize, collectively bargain, and "engage in other concerted activities" for their "mutual aid and protection." That basically means you've got permission to whine about management at a bar without getting canned.
These days, that right also extends to the (often whiny) free-for-all that is social media. In a series of reports and rulings this year, the National Labor Relations Board clarified that you are indeed entitled to log onto Facebook or Twitter and gripe about your employer without facing retribution. Of course, all rights have their limitations, and this one is no exception, as attorney Philip Gordon explained in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek this week. Gordon relates the fascinating case of Knauz BMW, the moral of which is this: If you're determined to make fun of your company, keep your lacerating wit focused on stuff involving your actual job.