If you have not heard about this, a Best Buy employee recently got into trouble for creating and posting a video poking fun at the iPhone and Apple in general.
Although the video was more of a parody based on observations about iPhones and those who buy them, Best Buy understandably did not take kindly to an employee publicly criticizing one of its major customers (and also those who shop at Best Buy).
The employee was suspended during the investigation and it seemed to be just a matter of time before he was terminated, but Best Buy quickly withered under the harsh public backlash from the “geek” community and the company back-pedaled, citing their desire to promote a “supportive environment” for its employees as motivating their decision.
Best Buy publicly offered the employee his job back via a press-release, but he actually released a statement of his own essentially telling them he did not want his job back after being treated the way he was by Best Buy.
I am going to take the rare step of siding with the employer on this one. The video the employee created (which I admit as an Android user I found uproariously funny) was watched by millions and at least briefly affected some of the public’s views on Apple, the iPhone and Best Buy. I have to assume that Best Buy is one of the largest distributors of iPhones besides Apple directly and AT&T, so this employee’s actions caused the company at the very least a great deal of embarrassment.
After reading some of the informal commentary on the internet about this story (e.g. “He should sue them!”), I will offer up the following advice on the implications of California Employment law: contrary to popular belief, the First Amendment has nothing to do with this case and only protects citizens from government action. Except in limited circumstances that do not seem to apply to this situation, employers are free to terminate an employee for anything they post on the internet that is critical of them or their affiliates.
In sum, if you would not say it to your boss’s face, don’t post it on the internet where he can see it because he is free to respond as if you had.