Yesterday the National Labor Relations Board (NRLB) issued a third memorandum regarding social media policies. Many employers have adopted social media policies that require employees to observe certain guidelines when participating on social media sites. Employees have been terminated for violating these policies. The NLRB has found that some of the policies and the terminations violate Section 7 of the NLRA. As I’ve discussed previously, certain provisions of the NLRA apply to all employers, not just those with unions.
A copy of the entire memorandum can be found here. Below are a few of the highlights:
· The use of broad terms such as “confidential information” or “disparaging remarks” in a social media policy may be unlawful if not coupled with examples of the types of confidential information or disparaging remarks that are prohibited and do not interfere with Section 7 rights.
· Restricting an employee’s discussion of the “terms and conditions of employment” to other employee’s is a violation of the NLRA. Employee’s have a right to discuss such topics with non-employees.
· Advising against “friending” co-workers is prohibited
· A “savings clause”, indicating that the policy is not intended to interfere with the NLRA, will not make an otherwise unlawful policy, lawful.
The memorandum provides a variety of different policy excerpts that were deemed unlawful and the reasons for the determination. Thankfully, the memorandum also includes a policy, in full, that was considered lawful. Some of the language in the approved policy may be considered overly broad standing alone, but the NLRB determined that in context and with the examples set out in the policy employee’s would not reasonably construe the policy to interfere with their rights. Thus, it’s important to include examples which provide limitations to otherwise broad language.
Take time to review your social media policy to ensure compliance with the NLRA. If you currently do not have a social media policy, I recommend adopting one.