Tuesday, October 23, 2018
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Badmouthing your boss on Facebook

/ 05:30 AM December 01, 2017

A reader in her late 20s asks: I’ve been working for a family business for 10 years. I thought we would be treated like family by a sweet boss. But my boss is a b*** who hates me. She gives me low evaluations and says I have to improve (or else). I don’t have friends in the office and I want to leave, but I am sure I won’t get a good reference. I posted complaints about my boss on Facebook, just to vent out, but my mother said other bosses might find out and not hire me.”

My reply


Your situation raises issues. I’ll address the most urgent first.

Some human resources departments—particularly in top corporations—conduct checks of what prospective employees post on social media. In the European Union, a bill was passed that warned companies to be careful in doing online background checks, but in most other countries, this practice is common.


I don’t know much about privacy settings on social media, but common sense says that savvy people can get just about any information. I tell my students, “If you cannot say something to another person to his or her face, then do not post it online.”

Since you already posted things you apparently now regret, if ever you are asked about this by employers, come clean. Say you were young and impulsive and that you would never do so again.

You worry about getting references from your current employer. I agree with you.

In August 2017, a Singapore court ruled against insurance giant AXA for giving a bad reference to a star employee that resulted in him not getting hired by other firms.

Vivien Shiao of the Business Times says, “If a former employer gave a bad reference to an applicant’s prospective employer, the employer is not obliged to disclose this to the candidate. However, if the bad reference contains allegations or complaints against the job-seeker that he or she is not aware of and has no opportunity to explain or defend against, then the former employer would have the duty to inform the candidate of this.”

Your case, unfortunately, is different.

Without a good reference, would you get offers? Only if a future employer asks for references from your past (not current) boss (assuming that you did not sever past links badly). Research shows that a lot of current employers may give negative references if employees suddenly leave.


Next week, let’s discuss how you can manage conflicts better.

Book launch

Come to Inquirer’s launch of my book “All in the Family Business” on December 10, Sunday, 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at National Bookstore (NBS) Glorietta. Xandra Ramos of NBS, Catherine Tiu of Akari, and Steven Cua of Welcome Supermart will discuss best practices in their businesses.

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TAGS: Badmouthing, Facebook, social media
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