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Top 4 Lessons for Employers from the NLRB's Recent Report on Social Media

In late January, the prosecuting attorney for the National Labor Relations Board (Board), Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon, published a second report detailing the Board’s current position on social media activities by employees.

This report summarized 14 recent Board decisions, and illustrates the strict restrictions the National Labor Relations Act (Act) currently places on employers who seek to protect their online reputation from disparagement by employees. Employers should remember that the Board’s current policy offers employees strong protection when they are posting Facebook messages, tweeting, and engaging in other social media activities, because these activities are often protected under the Act. Nevertheless, the Acting General Counsel’s report confirms that there are limits to this protection, such as when employees’ comments are solely “individual gripes,” or when the activities are so disparaging or disruptive that they lose the Act’s protection. Employers who are seeking to regulate their employees’ online comments should click the links below to view the four lessons that can be gleaned from Mr. Solomon’s recent report.

  1. Employees’ “Individual Gripes” Generally Are Not Protected.
  2. Be Careful When Addressing Individual Gripes That Are Attempting To Incite Group Action.
  3. Some Social Media Activities Can Go Too Far, And Lose The Act’s Protection.
  4. Social Media Policies Should Be Carefully Drafted.

Altogether, while it can be difficult to determine when an employee’s online comments have gone beyond the Act’s protection, the Acting General Counsel’s report helps clarify some of this ambiguity. Employers should remember that, although they may take some actions to protect their online reputation from employee criticism, the Board provides strong protections for employees who are utilizing social media in attempts to improve working conditions. 

This article is reprinted with permission from HRKentucky.com

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