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NLRB: Employees and Social Media—What’s Protected Conduct?

by News on October 20, 2011

in Surveys and Reports

The National Labor Relations Board issued a flurry of decisions, regulations, and guidance through the summer, especially just prior to the retirement of its long-time chair, Wilma B. Liebman.

Let’s start with the board’s advice on employees’ use of social media to talk about their work lives. At the top of the list for employers is this: Don’t make your communications policy too broad. Banning employees from criticizing the company in e-mail or through social media is going too far, because it interferes with their protected right to “concerted activity” (employees talking to one another) about their working conditions.

Here are four examples of protected conduct: (1) Employees complaining to each other on Facebook about their company’s tax-withholding practices (with expletives); (2) A salesperson showing on Facebook pictures and sarcastic comments about the employer’s inexpensive sales event; (3) An employee about whom a customer had complained, criticizing the supervisor’s investigation and calling him names; (4) Several employees posting Facebook comments, some with foul language, about co-workers and staffing levels.


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