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THE NLRB RELEASES A REPORT SEEKING TO PROVIDE GUIDANCE ON EMPLOYERS' SOCIAL MEDIA POLICIES
In the past year the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has made the headlines in popular media over terminating or disciplining employees over their Facebook content. As a previous blog post discussed, these cases made headlines as they represented a departure from the typical employer discretion for disciplining as they thought fit for unsavory social media postings by their employees.
The problem with these NLRB cases was that rarely were formal decisions issued, leaving those following the process without establishing precedents. The NLRB office of the General Counsel aimed to address this-in a way- by issuing a summary report of 14 investigations conducted over the last year, concerning social media related disciplinary actions taken by employers.
The report still fails to provide any bright line rules for employers to rely upon but does provide some helpful generalities to consider when reviewing or developing your social media and internet usage policy. These generalities include:
- No blanket forbidding of mentioning the employer in a social media forum;
- No prohibiting employees from posting visible media in which they appear to represent the company (e.g. wearing a company issued uniform or shirt); and
- A general assumption that discussions, including back and forth online comments, if about work conditions or terms of employment constitute protected, concerted activity.
The above is in no way exhaustive of the highlights from the report, and as always, the content of an employee’s social media content is fact specific; as such employers are advised to contact their legal counsel for advice on how to best craft policies to suited for their business.