Does your company have a provision in its employee handbook that prohibits employees from publicly posting content on social-media sites that damages or defames your company or your employees? If you do, it is important to know how to tailor such a policy to survive the National Labor Relations Board’s scrutiny.
This is particularly important because, over the past year or so, the NLRB has taken an interest in social-media policy discipline and discharge cases.
As an increasing number of employees are using social media, many employers have found it necessary to include a section in their employee handbooks that prohibit certain electronic postings. Accompanying this growth is a rise in litigation involving such policies. Therefore, the importance of a carefully drafted social-media policy cannot be overstated.
The NLRB issued its first formal ruling on the legality of social-media policies on Sept. 7, 2012, finding language in an employee handbook that employers commonly use unlawful. Although this is the first NLRB decision addressing this issue, the topic of social media has received much attention from the NLRB and by administrative-law judges around the country. This recent decision reaffirms the board’s position that the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) is broad enough to provide protection to employees who make comments about their employers via social media such as Facebook posts.
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