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Is your employee social media policy enforceable?

In a lot of ways, social media has made our lives easier. But in some ways, it has made our lives more complicated, especially for employers.

As we all know, your company’s reputation online can make or break your business, which is why you might be inclined to offer your employees guidelines for their social media use.

But according to the National Labor Relations Board, employers cannot implement overbroad policies that regulate their workers’ social media use. 

In a ruling issued this fall, the NLRB came down hard on a sports bar that fired two workers after the workers complained about the owners of the sports bar on Facebook.

The workers complained on a Facebook thread about tax computing errors made by the owners that ended up costing the workers money. After the owners viewed the Facebook postings, the two workers were fired for violating the employee handbook’s policy on social media which stated:

"…when Internet blogging, chat room discussions, e-mail, text messages, or other forms of communication extend to...inappropriate discussions about the company, management, and/or co-workers, the employee may be violating the law and is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.”

However, the NLRB ruled that the Facebook postings were considered "protected concerted activity” because social media is increasingly being used as a way for workers to organize and discuss working conditions.

The NLRB also ruled that company employee handbook’s ban on social media comments about the sports bar was too broad.

Ultimately, when crafting an employee social media policy, it’s extremely important to work with an employment law attorney who can make sure that your policy keeps your company safe while abiding by labor laws.

Source: PeoplesWorld.org, “NLRB protects Facebook time for workers,” Mark Gruenberg, Oct.24, 2014

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