Would you fire an employee who badmouthed your business?

I had the pleasure of presenting at the Direct Marketing Association of Washington’s Social Media Marketing Day. Our panel was charged with talking about best practices. Did you know, for example, that Facebook now allows page administrators to mute unwanted comments? This has the wonderful effect of letting a person continue to see his comment in the stream–but no one else visiting that page can see it. (Hat tip to my fellow panelist, Heather Shelby, for that one.)

One audience question really stood out. Someone pointed to a recent National Labor Relations Board decision (which has to do with an employee who was fired after she posted negative comments about her company on her Facebook page) and said organizations have to be careful about disciplining their employees for their social media activities.

My response: Well, maybe. The facts and decision in this case have always seemed pretty narrowly defined. And it wasn’t about free speech, but rather labor law.

Plus, smart companies have social media policies that address what employees can and cannot do online.

But there’s a bigger issue. Maybe firing someone for whining about their job isn’t always the best move. But if an employee is seriously badmouthing your business, chances are they are a bad employee. I’m sure you can find cause to fire them for performance reasons–unrelated to what they’re saying about you in their spare time.

Besides, they were talking about you before. You just weren’t listening.

Photo by Tonamel (Flickr).