new hire is badmouthing our business on Twitter

A reader writes:

I am the manager of a small business and recently made a verbal offer of employment to someone for an entry-level/cashier position. In the last day, this hire has made several deprecating comments on Twitter about the business. My knee-jerk reaction is to rescind the job offer, but I have doubts about how ethical that would be and the ramifications of it all. Do you have any insight?

I answer this question — and four others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • Is it normal to ask for a 2-3 year commitment to a job?
  • My company wants to track employees’ volunteer time outside the office
  • When should I tell my staff I’m leaving my job?
  • The CEO asked me to work on a project I can’t tell my manager about

{ 142 comments… read them below }

  1. HR Artist*

    #2, It’s not unheard of but especially for roles that have had a high turnover (usually beginner ones), sometimes company asks that of their chosen candidate. During the interview you can say yes, all in good faith of course, but doesn’t mean you are bound by anything. If something great comes up, it’s common to leave, regardless of what you said verbally. As long as you’re not signing contracts, it’s good to go.

    #3, I’ve never heard of this before.

    #5, CEO is higher than your manager. You must do what s/he asks of you (as long as it is not illegal or morally wrong)

    1. Artemesia*

      No way you can be off doing a time consuming project for the CEO without your boss being perturbed that you aren’t doing your job. The CEO HAS to make this a formal secondment; he doen’t have to disclose the details but he HAS to say to the boss ‘I need Jennifer for a project for a few days.’ Otherwise the OP is in a horrible position of having to weasel around about it and that will make it look more of a big deal. I am inferring this special project is going to lead to some layoffs; to keep that rumor from starting, the CEO needs to matter of factly tell Jennifer’s boss that he needs her for a project rather than having Jennifer look guilty and shifty eyed about what she is doing. There was never a question about whether she should do it, just about how to handle it gracefully.

      1. INTP*

        And if Jennifer’s boss wants to fire her for apparently wasting most of her time unproductively and being secretive about it, is the CEO *really* going to step up for her and say “Oh sorry, no, she’s working on a secret project for me that I didn’t tell anyone about because it might result in a lot of you losing your jobs”?

        The CEO needs to step up and say he’s having her work on a need-to-know project right now. If he won’t do that she shouldn’t trust him to come forward when all that extra time puts her at risk of being fired.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Re #5, in the extremes employee is getting disciplined, up to fired, by immediate supervisors because she mysteriously stopped doing her work. The CEO can’t ask her to (from her supervisor’s point of view) steal time from her department in such a way that no one ever notices.

    3. Not The Droid You Are Looking For*

      Seconding Artemesia and Falling Diphthong here.

      The boss needs to looped in. They may not need details, but they need to hear from the CEO that there employee is being pulled into a project.

  2. ArtK*

    LW1: Alison is right. Pull the offer right now. Why hire someone who has shown themselves to be toxic? If anyone is lacking in ethics in this scenario, it’s the candidate.

    1. Artemesia*

      I can’t understand why anyone would even hesitate on this. Much harder to fire her once she is on board; this offer should be rescinded yesterday. There is nothing unethical about not hiring someone who badmouths you on public media even if she is 55, a minority and a woman and disabled i.e. all the likely discrimination triggers. Screen shot the twitter feed and that is all you need if there are problems.

      1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

        Agree on the screenshots. Document everything. While it may cost cost you 2 minutes of time now, this will be valuable beyond belief if you need to defend yourself if this (soon to be former) hire decides to use Twitter to bash you personally.

      2. Esme Squalor*

        Last year, my company DID fire someone for trash-talking the company on her public social media. And everyone was fine with it, because it was such an unprofessional and insulting thing to do.

        1. Ego Chamber*

          I’m a terrible person who tends to not think these things through, but I’d be tempted to rescind the offer on Twitter by responding to one of her tweets “@[NewHireNoMore] I’m so sorry to hear you’re no longer interested in the position with @[Company]! Good luck with your continuing job search.”

            1. Ego Chamber*

              High five! :D

              (If I want to appear slightly less terrible, I could spin that as being a necessary wake-up call to the fact that employers are sometimes aware of employee’s postings online. This is not the intended reason why my generation was told to be careful about using our real names on the internet, but it works for this too.)

          1. Nervous Accountant*

            I actually don’t see anything wrong with this and I don’t consider myself a terrible person at all if I did this. or if anyone else did this. It’s a special kind of stupid to bash your future employer on twitter (I fully realize the irony of this given my 9800 open thread posts about my struggles).

            But I’m in a pretty cranky mood today so maybe that.

            1. Perse's Mom*

              I think it did. Something about a teenaged girl who was complaining on twitter about starting a new job at a pizza place on Monday, the store saw it, and the manager basically replied telling her not to worry about showing up after all.

          2. Annonymouse*

            Also after taking screen shots of their tirade reply with your rejection so it becomes clear that is the reason why you rescinded the offer.

            This should also hopefully head off a social media storm.

          3. Candi*

            Or: “From Fergus at Chocolate Teapots: Applicant, please check your email.”

            Said email being a pulling of the offer.

            But then, in my head I’m often mean and unprofessional, and I was reading the original posting the day this posted. So far, comments on the Twitter thing are much the same.

            Yes, autocorrect, I want offer, not author…

    2. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

      This situation reminds me of something that happened in a college internship. The project I was working on was hiring a graphic designer. The project manager asked me to check out any social media and websites that the candidates had on their resumes and summarize the contents (e.g. portfolio of X, used to announce X, Y, and Z). Once candidate had a link to a blog. The most recent entry was slamming the project as a horrible, soul sucking, miserable place to work and there was a (rather nicely done) animation of a project logo transforming into a shackled skeleton. The post also said that they didn’t think they were going to even be offered the job. Intrigued, I continued reading. Every post was either tearing down places this person had interviews with or complaining about how they were doing all these interviews and not getting hired. I wanted to e-mail him and say, “Dude, if you want to get hired either a) don’t slam the job until after you get an offer or b) don’t put this blog on your resume”

        1. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

          No idea, but it was exceptionally weird. I followed the blog for a while out of morbid curiosity (which upon reflection was probably super unprofessional) and it was always the same thing, day after day, year after year. He did get an amazing amount of interviews, I will give him that

          1. Ego Chamber*

            The blog… was on… his resume?! I mean, I get it if it’s ostensibly to post interviews and they get a lot of views, then yeah, throw it on there. But separate the things employers want to see from posts like “This Company I’m Working For Is The Devil,” “I Won’t Get This Job Anyway And I Have No Idea Why,” and “It’s Definitely Regular Sabotage, Not Self-Sabotage.” Every blogging platform I know has a way to run multiple blogs, it really isn’t hard.

            Once you start intentionally branding yourself online (which is what happens when you put your real name on anything), you have to be deliberate in how you do it, and if your brand is “whiny angry dude who hates every company/job and just can’t catch a break,” you’re probably not going to get a lot of job offers. Some people are okay with that, some people don’t understand that’s what they’re doing.

            1. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

              Yep. Right there under his e-mail and phone number. This wasn’t a stumbled upon private blog. This was a “Hey person thinking of hiring me, check this out!”

              1. Ego Chamber*

                Yeah, I’m kind of one of those people who’s a little sketched out about employers using information they’ve found to disqualify a candidate (especially if it’s potentially a forgotten account from like MySpace days or something somehow—god knows how that would come up in a Google search but I’ve found some weird wayback things before if a person doesn’t have much internet presence), but if it’s right there on the resume, that is 100% fair game. O_o

                1. Jesca*

                  If you google search my name, you will find a happy birthday wish to Brian May on his shitty website from the 90s! WHHHYYYYYYYYYY is this still available!!? Haha cracks me up every time.

                2. Escapee from Corporate Management*

                  Jesca, the fact that you wished Brian May a happy birthday would definitely make me want to hire you!

            2. aebhel*

              I’m kind of baffled that people do this. I’m extremely active online, but the only social media accounts that I have under my own name are Facebook and LinkedIn; the former is a friendslocked account used almost entirely for sharing baby photos with distant relatives. Everything else you can find by googling my name is work-related, school-related, or mentions in family obituaries. I suppose you theoretically could find my fandom accounts with my real name, but it would take a lot more digging than most people are going to do for anything that doesn’t require a security clearance. I don’t understand how theoretically media-savvy people post stupid sh*t like this under their real names.

              Then again, my name is unusual enough that I’m literally the only person who shows up when you search it; I suppose a Jane Smith might be a little more cavalier.

              1. Candi*

                Or you share a name with someone (moderately) famous.

                I use NickName MaidenName online -which happens to be the same name as a mid-level celebrity out of a big city. (Seriously. I only found out when I searched myself.) Google it, and the only result of mine on the first page is an image of a custom fan avatar an online acquaintance made for me several years ago. (He made such avatars for multiple other people on that website as well. He sells his original work now.) :) All the rest of the results for that page and half the next are the celeb’s results.

                So it would be soooo easy to be like, “Oh, no one’s going to see this stuff.” But, it’s wiser to err on the side of caution.

        2. Esme Squalor*

          You framing this as a tactic is making me imagine this guy as some slimy pickup artist type. “I’m negging all these prospective employers like I’m supposed to, but none of them will give me a job. Interview-zoned again! Whatever, all these companies are fat and ugly anyway.”

          1. Jesca*

            HAHA it really is though! Like those dating profiles of people who have been on dating sites waaaaaay too long and are bitter.

            There is nothing logical in giving a potential employer a link to your blog where you are badmouthing them, just like there is nothing logical in having a dating profile filled with hatred towards the entire sex you are trying to attract haha!

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        As soon as the concept of blogging was invented, people started publicly posting things they didn’t want people to read. Complaints about the total loser company that had just offered them a job were a bit of a theme, ever shocked when the job offers were rescinded. (And the defense is ever “my publicly posted opinions are private, and I shouldn’t be judged for what I do in my off time” which is where I think OP is wrongly hesitating.)

        This guy seems to have made it into a bit of old school performance art.

        1. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

          And put it on his resume, in the header, right under his e-mail and phone number. That was the part that still blows me away

        2. Indoor Cat*

          I’ve never understood that.

          I mean, I can kinda see it with adolescents. When I was in middle school and high school, my friends often had easily-findable LiveJournals, DeviantART accounts, and fan-fiction accounts, and got in arguments with their parents when they felt that their privacy had been invaded when said parents read a public post.

          But, by the time you’re an adult in the working world, shouldn’t you know better?

          1. Victoria, Please*

            The worst blowup my sister and mother ever had (that I know of) was back in the day when people still sent letters. My sister left a private letter on her bed, open and unfolded, with, um, some “trigger” words for any parent clearly visible and legible as neon. My mom put some clean clothes on the bed next to the letter, and….

            I’ve always pondered who was right and who was wrong in that one.

            1. Alli525*

              IMHO: Neither party is “right,” per se, but your sister was wrong to be angry with your mother. It’s unreasonable to be mad that someone read something “private” when you live with that person in a familial or marital relationship, and made no effort to conceal it.

              1. Alli525*

                (Unless, of course, there was some sort of explicit prior agreement where your mother had agreed to not enter your sister’s room without permission, or something like that, but I know I certainly had no such agreement growing up. Roommates would also be an entirely different matter.)

    3. The OG Anonsie*

      I mean, I wonder what “bad mouth” means. Is it “this company has these problems and sucks” or like, “the parking here is nuts!” “The racks here are always so packed it takes forever to find anything.” Since it’s a cashier job, this is somewhere the person may have interactions with as a consumer, and there are plenty of gripes that are benign enough that I wouldn’t have a concern about it unless they were also broadcasting that this is their opinion as an employee.

      I see why someone else maybe would care and would fire them, but I feel like being a cashier not often a job where you need to be emotionally invested in the company. And actually, being that it is a cashier job, I could really easily see this being someone who likes the place and shops there a lot (which is why they applied) but also has potentially valid complaints as a customer. For example, the grand majority of pointed complaints you will hear about Sephora are from people who shop their religiously and know everything about the place and their rewards and their employee training and everything. Those people are likely exactly the folks you’d want to work in the store, they know all about the place and will be able to help customers at a high level since they themselves are engaged customers.

      1. Ego Chamber*

        You have a valid point, but once you start working for a company, it’s common practice to stop complaining about them publicly. This has nothing to do with being emotionally invested and everything to do with the fact that once you’re an employee, you have a process for escalating problems that impact your job.

        I’m in the States and every customer service-ish job I’ve had has made employees sign paperwork with a “social media clause” that says employees 1) can’t post anything online representing ourselves as agents of the company, 2) can’t release information about the company that hasn’t been publicly announced, 3) can’t post anything negative about the company because issues need to be taken to management to resolve, and 4) if we do any of that, it’s cause for immediate dismissal and they will call it misconduct when they fire us.

        1. The OG Anonsie*

          Sure, there’s “it is a reasonable expectation that you will not do this and could be fired if you do.”

          That’s different than “the only reasonable course of action is to fire the employee.”

          I know not everyone is like this, also, but I sure as hell don’t let anyone know where I work on any public social media profiles. I don’t usually have my real name and almost never have photos of me on them, either. So while someone who is in contact with me in other ways can easily find it and would know it was me, the capacity to which anyone could reasonably claim I am speaking as an agent of my employer in public through these profiles is pretty limited. Many still would consider me to be doing so, and I wouldn’t be shocked if I was subject to reprimand over something I said on any of them, but I would also feel it was excessively punitive and unnecessary.

          1. Sas*

            Glad someone wrote something like this. I agree with most of what you wrote.

            Also, cashier? I have no sympathy for the LW. considering most places, the cashier gets paid horribly, no benefits, no full time opportunities, people don’t often respect the job as seen from even articles on this site, they handle the worst of customer service complaints… I mean maybe some of the commenters are so far removed from this reality.
            Also, Perse’s Mom, is it possible that in that type of job people don’t get to specify anything in the interview. For example, young kid wants a job buts doesn’t get to say Hey, Monday, not a good day for me to start. Because that’s how a lot of the jobs are. Hey the position starts Monday, or we’ll find someone else. Way to be harsh on someone else’s kid.
            I think people have beat the whole is the employee wrong thing to pieces, but should we also really consider supporting companies that treat these employees as they do?

    4. INTP*

      I would have to know what she actually said to be sure, but in the most realistic scenario ITA with this.

      If she’s, say, starting a position at Target Corporate and she’s been complaining about Target retail checkouts being super slow or something, I’d say that’s stupid, but not unethical. It’s not unethical to take back an offer because of such a public display of stupidity, though. From the tone of the letter though I assume she’s taking issue with the company itself, and in that case, either her ethics are very flexible according to the moment (not good), or she’s only taking the job because she feels she has to and she’ll be out of there as soon as she can.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        I would think… if someone were working for Target corporate–

        “Target’s checkout lines/merchandise selection is subpar”….. I wouldn’t rescind over that.

        “Target’s bathroom policy is heinous and against family values bla bla bla”—erm… yes rescind.

      2. Vladimir*

        I would say that criticism is not wrong when true, just remember many various articles slamming wall Mart for the treatment of employees. I would say they were fine and many certainly writen by employees. Od course criticizing your employer publicly is not smart but also not wrong when criticism is valid.
        And I would say that majority of people in cashier jobs take them because they have to not because they want to.

    5. M-C*

      In the same vein, I’m on the board of a nonprofit who had to expel a couple new members quickly after a couple months’ tenure. We found out they were badmouthing us to our nonprofit-umbrella organization, our funders, and our members, just in one weekend. It was horrible at the moment, probably the worst fight I’ve ever had to deal with (complete with door-kicking on the way out). And they’ve continued badmouthing us with just as much gusto. But not -more- gusto. And at least now we can explain that we had to expel them (there was also much personal bullying, but that ‘s another story) and why. Let me tell you, awkward as it may be at times, it’s a much better position to be in than to have to explain the misbehavior of -current- members. Please, please OP#1, get rid of this toxic person NOW!
      And yes, screenshots. Before you fire them. Kept forever.

    6. Liz2*

      I don’t think it’s toxic or unethical to post what you feel on your personal social media accounts.

      It’s simply ridiculous to think they would accept you working for them.

  3. LQ*

    My boss’s boss (and sometimes his boss) has asked me to do a lot of projects here and there (with varying levels of secrecy). I’ve always just told my boss “I’m working on something for Big Boss, I expect it will take x time, just letting you know.” And sometimes, “Can this other project be put off or giving to Coworker?” He’s never asked me for more details. Maybe it’s just our culture, but if my boss wanted to know more he’d talk to Big Boss directly to get the information that is appropriate for him (which may be different). The thing he needs from me is how much time it will take.

    1. Candi*

      In the comments on the original post, the LW clarified that the CEO had told her not to tell her boss a thing.

      Which was a really sucky thing to do.

      Cue the advice, on the original post, of how to professionally push back on the big boss. :) Love this place.

  4. JDusek*

    #3- My company does this, gives us the opportunity to volunteer during work times and pays us 8 hours of that time that we can volunteer. They encourage all employees to seek volunteer opportunities, donate to charities and if you volunteer over 40 hours they will donate, in your name, $250 to the charity of your choice.

    1. Karo*

      But that doesn’t sound like what’s happening here. In your scenario, the company is actively participating in the charity stuff – they’re donating money and time. By my reading of OP’s scenario, that company isn’t incentivizing it at all, nor are they participating, they’re just claim the individual’s time/money as their own.

      1. Koko*

        I think JDusek was responding to the part of Alison’s answer where she says that the company would appear more genuine if they gave people time off to volunteer or something along those lines, saying, “Yes, my company is an example of one who does the recommended thing.”

      2. logicbutton*

        LW3 does say that they’re being encouraged to enter hours used “not only for company-sponsored activities,” which suggests that their employer DOES subsidize on-the-clock volunteer hours – it sounds like they’re just concerned that they’ll be obligated to report off-the-clock volunteering as well. Which is a concern I get, but unless their company’s culture is really different from mine (which has a similar volunteer tracking system), that won’t be the case at all.

    2. Blue Anne*

      I don’t think OP’s company is offering time off to volunteer, though. They just want to know how much non-work time employees are spending volunteering.

      1. Jesca*

        Yeah, that is pretty irritating. I mean as a single mom with two kids, there is no way I would ever have time to volunteer. There aren’t a whole lot of places to volunteer with your young children, so then I would have to pay for sitter too? Yeah, this isn’t right.

        Now the company I currently work for allows time off specifically for volunteering which is nice. And IF you do it, then they track it.

      2. paul*

        I work for a non profit and I’d *still* resent that. Really, butt out of what I do with my free time unless/until it intersects with work.

  5. Super Anon for This*

    LW 3 I am so glad your company is not making the reporting mandatory. Things could get really weird if they did. Like, if the person collecting the reports lets it slip that so and so is volunteering for PP, and such and such was volunteering for an anti-choice organization, for example. Or PETA and the NRA (not everyone does but lots of people with guns hunt). It shouldn’t make things weird with mature adults, and it shouldn’t get around, but it might. Thank goodness it isn’t mandatory!

    1. Elemeno P.*

      My organization has a volunteer reporting site (we get a some perks and a donation to the charity of our choice if we get above a certain amount of hours, and it makes them look good), but they don’t allow us to log hours from any controversial organizations. There’s a drop-down list to choose from, and none of those are on there. I still log my time with PP, but put it under a different organization that I volunteer with. :)

      1. CostumeStitcher*

        Having written a few grants for corporate foundations, I can say that some companies ask if any of their employees volunteer or donate to my nonprofit. My assumption is that they would cross reference with this if available to make sure it’s true. And often they look more favorably on applications from nonprofits that already have buy in from their employees. In this case it sounds like they could probably be more transparent about how they will use the information but I could see how the real purpose gets lost in mid management shuffle.

    2. Indoor Cat*

      I didn’t even think of this, but it’s a pretty valid point.

      Frankly, it’s difficult to find a volunteer organization that is entirely apolitical and a-religious.

  6. The OG Anonsie*

    #3 made me chuckle. “Please tell us about good stuff you do that has nothing to do with us so we can brag about it!” Sheesh.

    1. Becky*

      Yeah they seem to be trying to take credit for your altruism.

      My company sponsors volunteer activities/projects that are during paid work hours and does use them for marketing–which in that case I think is their right. In the yearly “Corporate Responsibility and Citizenship” report they highlight the amount of money and some names of charitable organizations that employees have donated to using the Matching Gifts program, but even that has to do with their actions as well.

      If the company is not involved in the volunteering or charitable activity they have no right to try and take credit or brag about it.

      1. Ego Chamber*

        “If the company is not involved in the volunteering or charitable activity they have no right to try and take credit or brag about it.”

        Thank you! This is what skeeved me about the call center I used to work at. We were “highly encouraged” to commit to X volunteer hours per year—and also asked to work overtime all the time but those are 2 completely different uses of time and it’s not like time is a finite resource amirite?—either for company-sponsored events or at organisations of our choice.

        There were no incentives. If we did the company-sponsored ones, they would “let” us flex the hours or use vacation time to take a couple hours off in the middle of the day to go read at a school, but they didn’t let us use vacation time to get paid extra if it was on a day off, and if we didn’t have vacation time available and couldn’t flex it, we weren’t allowed to go read to kids, even if we wanted to do it unpaid.

        The company kept track of the volunteer hours so they could buy a fake article in the local paper explaining how committed everyone was to volunteering (X hours volunteered by [Company] so far this year!), which somehow proved it wasn’t a shit company that treated its employees like shit.

    2. LS*

      OldOldOldJob’s HR department wrote an article about how awesome they were to work for. It mentioned things like being able to get a shoulder massage at your desk. Only thing is, the shoulder massages were offered by someone in the IT department who had done a massage course. She did the massages on company time, when she was supposed to be doing her actual job. And you had to pay for the massage. The company pretended it was a perk. Almost every other benefit they mentioned was also fake. And they won an award for being a great employer, based in no small part on these fabrications.

      1. Nea*

        I am suddenly reminded of the time I was told the job included vision benefits, only to be handed a coupon to Hour Eyes on the first day with the offhand comment “sometimes other coupons give a better deal than this, so check.”

        1. Ego Chamber*

          I am suddenly reminded of the HR rep who gave a whole presentation on how good all the medical benefits were, with a slide devoted to all the vision places that were included in the vision plan. Fast forward to when I was paying for my new glasses and it turned out the place I went didn’t take our insurance even though it was on the slide. I put it all on a credit card and told the HR rep what happened so he could update his info for next time. He said “Yeah, that presentation’s like 5 years old. You really have to ask when you call to make the appointment.”

  7. Observer*

    #1 – Why do you think it would be unethical to rescind the offer? Did you hack his account, or see this because you forced him to give you his twitter password? I’m assuming that this is not the case, so you should have not ethical problem here.

    The reality is that anything a person says in public – and a tweet qualifies – is fair game for an employer to act on. Now, ethics demand that an employer act in a fair manner, and stay out of things that are none of their business such as what (legal and ethical) activities someone does in their spare time. But that is very different than a public tweet. Also, I think that ethics precludes pressuring low level staff to be boosters of your business. But again, that’s very different from expecting your employees to not bad mouth you.

    1. Antilles*

      The reality is that anything a person says in public – and a tweet qualifies – is fair game for an employer to act on.
      The lesson, as always: Never tweet.

      Kidding aside, this is yet another illustration of the general principle that you never post anything online that you wouldn’t want your employer (or family or spouse or…) to read, because the Internet Is Not Private.

    2. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      Possible reasons why people do this and solutions to the problem:
      1. They think the hiring manager is too stupid to look on social media. Solution: don’t hire this arrogant jerk.
      2. They think there is some legal issue that bars hiring mangers from using information found on social media. Solution: don’t hire this clueless jerk.
      3. They think this is normal discourse. Solution: don’t hire this boorish jerk.
      4. They have zero impulse control. Solution: don’t hire this childish jerk.
      5. They want to look too cool to be an employee. Solution: don’t hire this narcissistic jerk.

      I don’t know what drove this person to tweet deprecating statements about someone willing to employ him or her, but I do know one thing. The person is a jerk. Rescind the offer.

      1. Antilles*

        Personally, I think it’s actually closest to 4. Usually when people get into trouble with a tweet, it’s something they quickly fired off in 15 seconds during a moment of irritation / anger / boredom / etc without a second thought about how it might be perceived.
        Still worthy of pulling the offer, of course, but I think that’s probably more likely than “thought about it and decided it’s fine because ____” (1, 2, 3, and 5).

        1. Floundering Mander*

          Definitely clueless. I tweet all kinds of stuff that I wouldn’t necessarily want an employer to see (mainly my political opinions which are at times NSFW), but the important thing is that I use an account with a pseudonym and I don’t have anything that would make it obvious that it’s me in my bio or in the content of what I tweet. I wouldn’t be stupid enough to log in on a work computer, either.

      2. Sas*

        Umm, it could be because it’s an extremely low level position that often goes unrespected. What kinds of employees do you think they are going to attract, Master’s level with amazing customer service?

  8. K*

    #1 – Your only ethical obligation before rescinding the offer is to confirm the Twitter handle actually belongs to potential employee.

    1. Apostrophina*

      Absolutely. I have a pretty uncommon last name, but thanks to a very common first name for people my age, there are still five or six of “me” out there, which worries me sometimes.

      1. Artemesia*

        Several people including a professor who looked remarkably like the demonstrator in question but was actually at a meeting with colleagues (luckily) when the Nazi demonstration took place, have been publicly misidentified and then attacked on the internet. The professor looked just like a demonstrator wearing a sweatshirt from this guy’s college. He was immediately identified by people who looked at the faculty director and doxed; he had to actually prove to his school that it was not him. One guy had the same name as one of the organizers and has been preemptively sending out posts ‘I am not this guy.’ Really important not to act without being sure.

        1. Floundering Mander*

          Ugh. I hate doxxing, no matter what the cause is. It is way too easy to ruin the lives of innocent people, even if you think you’re doing it for the right reasons. If you think someone was involved in something illegal, quietly report it to an appropriate authority.

          1. Candi*

            Yeah. Telling the police or maybe HR at their work? (Although HR might be iffy.) That’s one thing.

            Throwing them to the internet Maenads? That’s something else again.

  9. Lady Phoenix*

    #1 – This is a no brainer. Tell the dude, “We are not hiring you.” And spend that time finding someone with more positivity and brains. This dude is a great big idiot.

  10. Faith*

    My company will actually match my volunteer hours with cash (10 hours = $100). So, it does make sense for me to report my volunteer hours to my employer to get the organization that I obviously care about some additional money. However, I would not give my employer this information if all they used it for was their promotional materials. It smacks too much of a “checkout charity” where the store gets to claim a large donation that was actually funded by its customers.

    1. Jesmlet*

      At our last marketing meeting, someone suggested we volunteer at a hospital and have someone take pictures to put on our website and I felt so grossed out by the idea of monetizing charity work that I shut it down immediately. Obviously I suggested that we volunteer anyways but doing it for recognition or publicity is just skeevy to me.

      1. Temperance*

        I work in pro bono and regularly coordinate volunteer events. I absolutely do market the events that are appropriate to market, especially if we’re working with a client, but we don’t do the work just to market, if that makes sense. (I mean, they pay me to do this job. They clearly support it!)

        The only time we don’t do marketing of events ifs if it feels exploitative. For example, we never take photos of children or at the clinic we host for adults with disabilities.

    2. Koko*

      Just to add another perspective here, but there really is value being provided by “checkout charities.” They may not be forking over the cold hard cash themselves, but they’re essentially donating millions in free advertising to the charity by soliciting every person who comes through their stores nationwide with a donation ask, every time they shop. As someone who raises money for a nonprofit I would love the opportunity to get our org in front of millions of shoppers over and over again at no cost to us. Not only for the donation revenue but also the boost it gives to our brand becoming more recognizable and trusted.

      1. SusanIvanova*

        As someone who itemizes, I wish the checkout charities would give me a yearly summary of what I’ve donated, since I have a loyalty card and they’re already giving me a yearly summary of what I’ve saved.

  11. Kelli Too*

    #1 Document and screenshot the Twitter nonsense to show dates, THEN pull the offer. (Assuming you’re certain that you have the correct person, of course.)

    1. Phoenix Programmer*

      That’s my only concern. I would all about the account then pull the offer if it is indeed them.

  12. Jamey*

    For #1, I’m so curious what was said. WHY would they badmouth the company IMMEDIATELY AFTER getting an offer? Like, what motivated them to do that??? “I can’t believe these losers would offer me a job” ????

    1. Tuxedo Cat*

      I worked with some like that. They openly said that the org can’t attract high-calibre talent; this was based on where folks went to college, which isn’t a great measure (and he got it wrong anyway).

      On his public Twitter account, he talks about bad the practices of the org are. He was hired to improve the particular practices, but I don’t feel it was useful for him be so blunt and public about it.

      1. Artemesia*

        People like this will do it internally too. I hired a well qualified but known to be abrasive person to help upgrade a program. She badmouthed us to other parts of the organization where we already had problems of reputation (not even earned problems as our people were mostly nationally known experts, but we were in a low value division). WE thought by making her our representative with her clear competence that it would enhance our reputation but instead she did her best to whine about us. (and everything else in the organization) She went in 6 mos from the person we had hoped to move into leadership to ‘wish she would leave’ which she did when she didn’t get the promotion to leadership she expected.

        1. Tuxedo Cat*

          That hire sounds miserable to be around. I avoided talking to my problem coworker as much as possible- we worked on different projects so it wasn’t difficult. The few times I did talk to him or hear him, he was constantly bragging about how awesome he was and condescendingly telling everyone else how to their jobs. He fancied himself an expert on everything, just because he might’ve known someone in passing who knew about the topic.

          I don’t think he’s going to leave that job unless he gets some amazing offer. From what I’ve seen, I don’t think his work is impressive. Even though he seems to think lowly of the org, I think he enjoys feeling like king of the world and being seen as an expert on all things- most of us just think he’s a jackass and are polite to him.

    2. kc89*

      There was an article talking about social media and work in a magazine many years ago when social media was a bit newer and they mentioned how someone publicly tweeted something like “Got the offer from Crisco! Now to decide if hating the work is worth the fat paycheck” and the company quickly rescinded their offer

      1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        That is the first thing that popped into my head. The second thing that popped into my head, was that incident involved a college graduate who was offered a significant entry level position in a major company. Nobody there wrote for advice about what to do. they may have had some discussion, but bottom line the offer was rescinded the same day. And in using the same medium.

    3. Look What You Made Me Do*

      I imagine it’s someone who isn’t particularly thrilled about this job but needs the money. I’ve seen multiple instances of people complaining about “having to go work at xxx” and then the company sees it (usually because the business name was automatically tagged, like on Facebook) and is like, “Actually, you don’t have to come to work tomorrow. You’re fired.”

      1. strawberries and raspberries*

        Yeah, I immediately think of that woman who was offered a job at a daycare center and made a series of posts about how much she hates kids that named the company. They immediately rescinded the offer.

      2. The Supreme Troll*

        Yes, I got that feeling too, mainly because the OP described it as a cashier position that is entry-level. I think that OP’s hire is seeing it as a boring, lame job – but is something that is stuck with right now because he needs the money and wasn’t able to get hired someplace else.

        Regardless, a foolish thing to send out those tweets. If indeed it is him, the OP should dump him and not give it a second thought.

      3. Jamey*

        Obviously a lot of these examples are pretty egregious and it’s stupid to specifically name the company, but your example seems a little harsh to me. I love my job but sometimes I just don’t feel like going to work and want to complain a little! Obviously I wouldn’t do it publicly because that is stupid but I think “gotta go in to work today, ugh” is a feeling most people can relate to, even in jobs they’re not unhappy at.

  13. Phoenix Programmer*

    3 I know banks are required to give so much back to communities that were hurt as part of the Dodd Frank act. The bank I use to work for also instituted a volunteer registry so they could report the hours to satisfy the requirement.

  14. Cringing 24/7*

    #3 is very common in banking where they are subject to the Community Reinvestment Act. Banks want to show that both they and their employees are giving to the community that they service.

  15. ArtK*

    LW#3: My current employer gives extra PTO for volunteer work, so they track it. Previously, I’ve worked for large corporations that like to encourage volunteerism and want some credit for it, so they track as well. I don’t find the request strange or out of line at all.

    1. Mike C.*

      If they aren’t paying for the time, it feels like they’re taking credit for something they didn’t do.

      1. fposte*

        That’s how I feel about my employer’s charitable campaign. They don’t match, so why do they get to act like they did something nice when I gave?

        1. A Plain-Dealing Villain*

          Well, they are providing the wonderful service of keeping your name and address off of the charities’ junk mail lists.

        2. Lison*

          I agree. There is a drive that happens where I work that happens every so often for non-perishables for needy families and I’m like does the charity get something beyond what they would get if I just dropped off a basket of groceries to them directly because if not I’ll just drop the basket off myself. Good charity to donate to, thanks for letting me know but why should I let the company take credit for doing a drop off only? (To be fair the company do contribute to a lot of community efforts so I’m kinda being a curmudgeon)

          1. Ego Chamber*

            You’re not being a curmudgeon. Corporations (in the States) are considered people now, and part of being a people is not taking credit for things you didn’t do. There are also ways to do it very wrong, even if you do incentivize it for employees in some way.

            The call center where I used to work had an annual food drive and they turned it into a team contest (prize: 2 hours off the phones for pizza and a movie, which never happened). The first time they had this contest it was by number of items, so the food bank got about a thousand packages of Ramen noodles—because that’s what hungry people need at Christmastime. The second time they had this contest it was by weight, and someone figured out the cheapest heaviest thing you can buy is WalMart brand bottled water, so the food bank got about a hundred cases of bottled water—because that’s what hungry people need at Christmastime. I hated that call center so much.

          2. Sualah*

            You get to not have to drive to a separate place? I guess I’m just lazy, but it’s great for me to go shopping, leave the relevant groceries in my car overnight, drive to work (where I’m going anyway), and put it in a bin. Efficient!

            Also, does anyone think it’s not the employees of a company that do the giving? I mean, you see the headline of “Big Company donates food!” and that’s obviously stuff collected/donated by the employees.

            The important thing is people getting the help they need, so if it’s through work or not, however anyone is helping works for me!

    2. Mockingjay*

      Mine gives PTO per volunteer hours, too, provided the charity is a currently registered 501c. Hours are self-reported per quarter. The volunteer info is kept confidential. Employees can do an intranet newsletter article about the charity, if they choose.

      It’s a low-key way to give back. People are encouraged to participate, but it’s not mandatory.

  16. Mike C.*

    I was thinking about number 1 and agree that for the vast majority of situations (and even more so for the case the OP describes) the offer needs to be rescinded, but I wonder if there are any situations where this advice should change.

    Consider a few possibilities:

    1. Large company is being criticized for something really bad, like Equifax losing their database to hackers or Uber being a terrible place for women to work.
    2. The comments were a long time ago.
    3. The “badmouthing” takes the form of something along the lines of, “Given the NTSB’s report on a recent crash, Tesla would have been wise to reconsider their early release of their auto-pilot features” rather than something like “F*ck those guys!”.

    And yeah, while I understand that even if these situations are more compelling than straight up trash talk that employment still wouldn’t be practical, I’m also a little uncomfortable with this idea that one must be totally loyal to an employer in all situations in public.

    1. Nervous Accountant*

      I think these are the only 3 possibilities that make this a situation where you’d pause and go hmmmm.

      Anything else, I’d agree to rescind the offer. Cmon, job searching is still competitive and if someone is going to badmouth you, there’s lots of others who have better common sense and won’t do that.

    2. Mike C.*

      One more possibility: the business criticized was not the same as the business that was hiring, but there is a DBA/overarching corporate connection/supplier/customer relationship. Again, it doesn’t apply to the OP, just something to think about.

    3. Becky*

      If the comments were a long time ago, I would hope the employee would have the sense to delete them prior to applying or accepting a job there. It is a well known fact that many companies will look into your social media footprint.

      I like your #3 point. I know some people and know of many other people who take any criticism–no matter how well founded or well meant or measured and constructive-as personal badmouthing and feel the need to retaliate. I get the feeling that is not the type of thing OP is writing about, but it is something to keep in mind.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        That assumes they remember making them.

        But I also wouldn’t consider rescinding an employment offer to someone who once said something bad about my org 5 years ago.

    4. The OG Anonsie*

      Agreed. And like I noted above, this is a cashier gig. Is this someone who is a really engaged consumer of this company’s products who had valid criticism? Did they identify themselves as an employee when they made the public comments? Were they civil about it?

      I can think of so many scenarios where this would be reasonable that I wouldn’t blanket it as “yeah obviously fire them.” There are a ton of scenarios where that would be an overreaction. There are also a ton of scenarios where it would be dumb not to fire them. I don’t know which one this is, but I don’t think the rule of thumb should be to rescind the offer.

    5. Observer*

      Why are you derailing here? There is nothing in the original letter, Allison’s response, or the responses in the comments that imply that someone “must be totally loyal to an employer in all situations in public.” Not even close.

      1. ArtK*

        I agree. There’s a difference between “totally loyal in public” and “actively disloyal in public.” The latter is what we have. Discretion, as they say, is the better part of valor.

      2. Mike C.*

        I don’t think it’s a derail at all, and I’m really surprised at the tone you’re taking here.

        “Being loyal in public” is simply shorthand for the common expectation that employees don’t say negative things about their employers.

    6. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      These are excellent points for not reacting to a current employee posting something. There can be very valid reasons. But this is a prospective employee.
      In case of 1 or 3, why would the poster be applying a for a job there? I can accept that a current employee bursts out of frustration, but for someone who hasn’t started yet? This is the first impression everyone but the interviewer gets of this person. And that is not what you want coming in the door. “Oh, isn’t brutal honesty from a stranger so refreshing?”

    7. paul*

      I agree with your examples, but 2 and 3 don’t seem like they’d apply here. I read it as the OP did this *after* getting the job offer.

    8. Elsajeni*

      I’d also consider, especially for a cashier position like this where a lot of your employees are also likely to be customers:
      4. The “badmouthing” is clearly about a specific experience as a customer, not connected to the hiring process — “Teapot Cafe barista put ‘fatso’ as the name on my order, wtf” or “CableCo didn’t show for my THIRD service appointment, what do I have to do to get internet service around here???” or whatever.

    9. Sas*

      +1 Also, low level customer service position, you should expect to maybe have to work a little with something, Hey you know in the interview we covered not sharing xyz on whatever social media page? Could you remove this?

  17. Not The Droid You Are Looking For*

    #2: I commonly tell candidates we are looking for someone to “ideally stay 2-3 years” because I hire for entry level positions. It’s in part letting them know that we want them to stick around, but also in setting the expectation that this is an entry level position and I know you will move on.

  18. Kathlynn*

    Lw1 did the applicant give you this twitter account or did you look for it, are you sure it is her account and that she’s the one posting these things. She doesn’t have a common name, like Ashley Smith or something. You don’t want to rescind an offer over mistaken identity.

  19. Kriss*

    Re#1: a friend of mine is a zookeeper. Back when social media was still fairly new the zoo she was working at back then had a publicist who had a search set up to alert her when the zoo was mentioned in anything . They had just had a round of interviews with new graduates & hired their top two choices. The publicist came to them & said, “one of your new hires is trashing the zoo in his blog” & provided printouts of the blog. They rescinded their offer, put him on a do not hire list at that zoo & hired their third choice as a replacement.

  20. designbot*

    #4, since there’s so much lead time I’d let it come up naturally. At some point people are going to start talking about plans for the next year etc. and when that happens you can say “actually I won’t be around for that since I’m moving into another role, but I’m sure you’ll do a fantastic job on the project.” Keep your tone matter of fact and you communicate that this isn’t a secret of any kind, it’s also not a big deal, just something that’s happening. If it feels like an announcement then there’s bound to be a flurry of questions about what will happen, but if you are like shrug, this is the way things are, people will usually follow suit.

  21. Middle Name Jane*

    It seems like you’d have to be a special kind of idiot to publicly badmouth your employer on social media in such a way the employer can identify you. And at the job offer stage? Why did this person even bother applying for the job if they felt that way about the company?

  22. DeeDee*

    No employee of any title is allowed to go to a public chat area such as twitter or facebook and write anything about their jobs….be it good or bad posts. Report this person to HR. If HR doesnt do anything….go higher.

  23. Ruh Roh, Raggy!*

    @LW5 – If your CEO didn’t realize how much time this project would take, it’s also a good idea to loop back just to make sure the CEO still wants the task completed and that you’re not doing more than s/he expected.

    When I’ve come back to someone and explained how much unexpected time a project would take, there’s often a change in direction – either, “Nope, we actually don’t need this right now,” or, “In that case, could you just focus on X and Y?”

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