Does your social media policy violate labor laws?

Jonathan Sweet, Editor In Chief

Jonathan Sweet, Editor-in-Chief
January 22, 2013
Filed under Jonathan Sweet

One of the most important things you can do for your business is have a social media policy in place. It should govern who can speak for the company through official social media profiles, what employees can say on those official channels and who approves content.

(Check out this gallery of the worst company tweets of 2012 for some particularly egregious examples of bad business tweets.)

On the other hand, recent rulings from the National Labor Relations Board severely limit a company’s ability to regulate what employees say when they’re off the clock using personal social media accounts – even if it affects your company.

In the precedent-setting ruling in December, the NLRB ordered the reinstatement of five employees fired by a Buffalo nonprofit. The agency had fired the employees had after they posted comments about another employee, citing its anti-harassment policies. The NLRB, though, said the communication was protected speech.

From the Riverside, Calif., Press-Enterprise:

The 3-1 decision by the labor board is probably going to be used as a legal precedent for similar cases in the future. The board has issued opinions in other cases where social media came into play, but in this the board specifically pointed to workers’ protections.

“This is the first one where they decided a firing was illegal,” labor board spokesperson Nancy Cleeland said. “This will be the one people cite when they claim they were illegally fired.”


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