bartz.jpgCarol Bartz, the former CEO of Yahoo!, isn’t holding back about her hatred for her former bosses. And her desire for revenge may end up costing her a $10 million severance package.

She’s gone public with her disdain for Yahoo!’s board and most recently called them all a bunch of “doofuses.” It appears her contract had an “anti-disparagement” clause.

I know you all are giggling a bit right now as I did when I heard her remarks, but is getting back at your bosses because you’re angry they fired you, demoted you, cut your pay, or just generally screwed you over a good idea?

Employees of all ranks have been pretty angry lately. “It’s understandable,” said David Kaplan, management professor for Saint Louis University, “because they feel the employer has violated the psychological contract with employees, and they don’t feel they owe them anything.”

I just wrote about how lots of people are leaving secure jobs for ones they may not like as much or have uncertain futures because they’re so pissed off at their employers. It makes sense. It’s been a crummy few years of cutbacks and generally bad behavior at many companies.

But, and here’s the big but, do you really want to burn the whole house down as you head for the office or factory door?

Whether it’s keeping your anger in check, giving notice, training your replacement or abiding by noncompete agreements you may have signed, these post-employment niceties that were expected once upon a time are not a given in today’s workplace.

“I think it’s a function of the economy,” says Lewis Maltby, president of the National Workrights Institute. “If your employer has been treating you well, morally you should give as much notice as you can. On the other hand, if your boss is screwing you, you don’t want to be nice.

“It’s a dog fight out there. No one is playing nice anymore. This is more ethics than law.”

Indeed, you’re not legally obligated to give notice, unless you have a detailed employment contract that says you have to. But even in that case, Maltby adds, few employers will sue you for not doing so because it’s not worth the time and expense.

“Most employers will be accommodating,” says John Verderese, leader of the talent management group at PricewaterhouseCoopers, “because most employers know, once employees make a decision to leave, their mind is elsewhere.”

If you’re so mad at your former employer and take company secrets and clients with you, or go to work for your company’s competitor even though you signed a noncompete agreement, that could be another story. (Here’s a story I wrote about noncompetes.)

If you assess your situation and decide there will be few legal repercussions to leaving on bad terms, you should still consider karma. With the cyber social networking explosion, what you do at one employer may come back to haunt you.

Clearly Bartz’ doofus comment will be around for many years to come, thanks to the Internet.

But hey, maybe it was worth $10 million to get some revenge; and who knows where she’ll end up when the dust settles. Remember the CEO from Hewlett Packard who was accused of sexual harassment. It turned out he became an even hotter commodity and landed a plum job as president of Oracle.

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