Social-Media Policies Banning Criticism of Management May Violate NLRA
Many employers are grappling with the ever-evolving world of social media by putting far-reaching policies into place to regulate what employees may and may not do and say in their social-media activities, both at work and from home. Some of these policies prohibit employees from criticizing their company or its management – provisions that are now coming under scrutiny by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) grants employees with or without a union the right to engage in "concerted activities" for their "mutual aid and protection," which includes discussing pay, benefits and other work-related issues with each other. If management impinges on this right with restrictive policies or other means, employees may file an “unfair labor practice” complaint with the NLRB.
In a case involving American Medical Response of Connecticut, Inc. (AMR), an employee filed an NLRB complaint alleging that AMR fired her pursuant to a policy that prohibited the disparagement of AMR or its management after she posted negative Facebook comments about her supervisor. AMR recently settled the case and agreed, among other things, to change its policy so as not to (a) restrict employees from discussing their wages, hours and working conditions with each other while off duty and (b) discipline or discharge employees for these discussions.
Accordingly, employers should review their social-media policies with Section 7 in mind and train their managers and employees on responsible social-media use accordingly.Categories: General Business Compliance