Is Badmouthing the Employer Okay?


In this age of “at will” employment we’ve come to understand that an employee could be properly discharged for any reason, or no reason at all, provided that the true reason for termination is not illegal or against public policy. So, in most cases, an employer wouldn’t think twice about terminating a disloyal employee who publicly disparaged and maligned its products or services.

And in most cases, the employer would be entitled to do so without liability.

That is, unless you are a union employer in the middle of a labor dispute. In such cases, terminating an employee for badmouthing the company could violate the National Labor Relations Act. That’s because publicly attacking the quality of an employer’s products or services can be protected speech so long as it is clear that the comments are being made as part of a labor dispute and the comments aren’t extremely disloyal or maliciously false.

So, while there is generally no obligation to retain an employee who intentionally undermines the integrity of the employer, caution should be exercised in a union shop and where a labor dispute is underway.


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