Warning: Your social media policies may get you in trouble with the NLRB
by cjleclaire
 Stephen Hans Blog
May 31, 2013 | 10496 views | 0 0 comments | 1049 1049 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

As social media becomes the norm in everyday life, federal regulators are getting touchy about employers creating policies that limit what employees can say online.

In the past, employers have discouraged employees from making negative comments about the company or staff such as:

  • Discussing company matters publicly
  • Criticizing managers
  • Complaining about co-workers
  • Disparaging the company in general

And if an employee was found in violation of the above, often termination occurred.

However, recent rulings have made such general restrictions illegal.  The National Labor Relations Board  (NLRB) has said employees have the right to freely discuss work conditions without fear of retaliation – whether online or off line.

These actions by the NLRB have upset many companies because it is taking a law enacted during the industrial area meant to protect workers’ rights to unionize and is applying it to Internet activities of most private-sector workers.

However the NLRB claims they are merely adapting the National Labor Relations Act, to the modern day workplace.

Protect your company by modifying your social media policies

One of the best ways you can protect your company is by adopting social media policies that are focused and specific.  For example: Rather than telling employees not to disclose confidential information, specify that they should not disclose, trade secrets, proprietary information, product release dates or private client details.

Even if you believe you are following the NLRB rules, putting clear limits on social media postings without crossing the line  can still be tough.  However, employers are still entitled to enforce workplace policies including the prohibition of:

  • Sexual harassment
  • Workplace violence
  • Threats of violence,
  • Sabotage
  • Abusive and malicious activity

And you can still limit the use of social media at work, during work hours, and on company equipment.

Discuss your social media policies with an employment attorney

Considering the current trend of increased regulation and oversight, it may be wise to review your current social media policies.  An employment attorney can offer advice on how best to craft your policies so you remain compliant with NLRB rules and regulations.  To schedule an appointment, contact our office online  or call us at (718) 275-6700 today.

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