A coworker friended me on Facebook. I’ve seen something I wish I didn’t. Should I speak up? Should I talk to the person, should I tell our manager or human resources? I don’t want to be a tattletale or a narc, but I don’t want to get in trouble, and I also find the comment not only inappropriate but offensive. What should I do?
– Don’t Post and Tell
Dear Don’t Post and Tell,
Great question. Since you didn’t give much detail, here’s a few factors to consider.
1.Company policy – Was the behavior in violation of company policy? For example did they say they were sick and posted pictures from the beach bar? Many employee policies or handbooks require upholding a certain demeanor or presence outside of work as a representative of the company.
2.Danger? Did they make statements that appear to be dangerous to themselves, others, or company/personal property? Were they badmouthing a client, colleague, manager, or policy? Could you lose business over the post? Did they name your company, specific people, or post pictures of the workplace or a uniform?
3.What is your work relationship with the person? Are you peers? Are you their supervisor? Hard and fast rules: if you are in any form of management role, you must follow company procedure. There are many national and statewide legal ramifications that are continually changing and you may not be aware of: off duty conduct laws, the protection of political views, whistle-blower rights, and discrimination factors. If you take matters in your hands without corporate guidance you could be opening yourself or your company up to a lawsuit. If management finds out you were aware and did not act you open yourself up for possible disciplinary action.
However, since social media is relatively new, there may be no procedure. If they are your direct report, go to human resources or your manager for guidance. If you are a manager but not their manager, address the behavior immediately with human resources and their manager. “It’s come to my attention that an employee posted something on the internet that may be in violation of company policy.” This may be the impetus needed to develop and communicate social media policy for all employees.
What if they are a peer? Whether they are a friend or not, I believe you should handle the situation as if you overheard them or saw the action. For example what would you have done if you saw them at the beach bar on Wednesday when you took a vacation day and they said they were sick?
Address the person directly. “I saw a post on your Facebook page that makes me uncomfortable.” (Describe the specifics). For example, “I saw on Facebook that you posted pictures from the beach when you called in sick. I’m uncomfortable with the situation especially since we’re all working long hours due to project deadlines. I hope you understand and can appreciate the difficult position you’ve put everyone when you post something like that in such a public arena.”