Social Media Continues to Influence the Law and Business

Posted by on Jun 12, 2013 in Discrimination/Employment | 0 comments

Social Media Continues to Influence the Law and Business

Over the past few years, social media has significantly influenced the law and business practices.  In the realm of employment law, social media has been a particularly strong catalyst for change and a cause for concern for many employers.  In fact, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently issued two substantial reports governing the use of social media in the workplace.

The NLRB is a federal agency that is responsible for enforcement of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which protects employees’ rights to organize.  Under the NLRA, employers cannot fire or take any other adverse employment action against an employee who engages in “protected concerted activity.”  Protected or concerted activity generally refers to the activities of two or more employees who act together to improve conditions of their employment.  Based upon the the fact that protected concerted activity includes conversations between workers, the NLRB has recognized that posts on Facebook or other social media outlets may be considered protected activity.  Accordingly, employers have to exercise caution when faced with the decision of whether to discipline or terminate an employee for negative comments made through social media.  If an employee post comments on the terms and conditions of their work, then the post may be considered protected activity, and it would be unlawful to terminate the employee for making such a post, even if the comment was negative about the employer’s business.

To address this and other similar issues, many employers are implementing polices governing the use of social media in the workplace.  The NLRB, however, has made it clear through its reports that social media policies cannot be over broad or construed by employees to restrict their ability to engage in protected activity.  The NLRA will continue to enforce its policies and protect employees’ rights, including their rights to use social media.

Based upon the fact that the NLRA governs employers throughout the United States, all businesses should review their policies and practices to ensure compliance with the ever changing area of labor and employment law.

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