A. Martin and Krista N.
You may recall that last November we told you about the
Connecticut employer who faced NLRB charges for firing an employee who posted
derogatory comments about the company on Facebook (http://www.bullivant.com/Facebook-Not-Grounds-For-Termination).
Last week, the employer and the NLRB reached a private settlement, before the
judge had an opportunity to rule on the matter.
Even though the judge did not issue a formal ruling in
the Facebook case, employers (all employers, not just union shops) should take
certain steps to avoid being the next victims of enforcement action by the NLRB
in its ongoing efforts to protect employee rights to discuss wages, hours, and
One of the NLRB's chief concerns in the Facebook case was
the firing of an employee for making negative comments about her supervisor and
the company online. Not all negative comments by an employee are necessarily
protected. Certain types of comments are considered protected concerted
activity, however, and employers should be cautious before firing or
disciplining an employee based on such comments. Each case is different and
employers are advised to consult with experienced employment counsel before taking
action against an employee because the employee made negative comments about
the company on the internet (or anywhere for that matter).
Another key take away from the Facebook case is that the
NLRB does not look favorably on overly broad social media policies. While
employers can (and should) restrict what employees say about the company on
social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, and blogs, overly broad policies
that chill the employees' abilities to exercise their right to discuss working
conditions may violate the law. We recommend that all employers consult with
their employment counsel regarding their social media policies to ensure that
they are in compliance with the NLRB's enforcement position.
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