In a recent post, we asked the question, “Are employer social media policies going too far?” The National Labor Relations Board seemed to think so. In fact, the NLRB said that many of the employer policies go too far in restricting employee use of social media websites.
The fear is not just that the overbroad policies could lead to wrongful termination of an employee, but that the policies could actually prevent employees from being able to participate in protected labor activities including discussions about working conditions. So how do you know what is overbroad? Isn’t that term itself fairly ambiguous?
The NLRB was certainly aware of the fact that clarification was needed and released a report this past week that cited specific examples of policy language that they thought was included too much restriction.
Some of the examples concerned restrictions on the type of material that could be posted. One used the words “completely accurate and not misleading” when describing what an employee could post. This language, said the NLRB, would have the effect of preventing employees from criticizing how employees are treated or labor policies in general.
Other examples included who an employee could or could not “friend.” One employer told employees to “think carefully” about accepting or requesting co-workers as friends. The NLRB cautioned that this could directly have the effect of preventing employees from joining together to communicate about protected subject material.
Do you use social media? Do you know what your employer’s social media use policy allows or prohibits? Have you suffered adverse employment actions over social media use?
Source: The Legal Times, “NLRB Report on Social Media Highlights Overbroad Employer Restrictions,” May 30, 2012