Most of GM’s Social-Media Policy Found Lawful
As we mentioned recently, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued its third report within a year on employers’ social-media policies. In the report, the NLRB’s General Counsel argued that six out of the seven policies examined were overbroad and, therefore, unlawful under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). One of the policies the report singled out was that of General Motors (identified in the report only as “a motor vehicle manufacturer”), which the report said contained several unlawful provisions. However, the NLRB’s report is not binding law, and a decision by an administrative law judge from the NLRB’s Division of Judges on GM’s policy disagreed with the General Counsel on most of the provisions in GM’s policy, finding all but one to be lawful.
The one provision that the ALJ found violated Section 8(a)(1) of the NLRA prohibited employees from revealing nonpublic company information on public sites, including “personal information about other GM employees such as his or her … performance, compensation, or status in the company.” The ALJ found the provision could reasonably be interpreted as prohibiting protected employee communications about the terms and conditions of employment.
The ALJ, however, disagreed with the General Counsel on provisions relating to use of company logos, treating everyone with respect and reporting inappropriate behavior on internal social networks, finding all of them lawful. The ALJ also found that a provision requiring employees to “think carefully about ‘friending’ coworkers” did not violate the law because it spoke only to thought and not to action, and there was no reference to discipline. “Thus,” the ALJ wrote, “it is in the nature of advice or of a suggestion rather than a mandate since GM can monitor conduct but not thoughts.”
Tags: Social Media Compliance