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Which online comments are protected? NLRB helps explain

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

As discussed last month, confusion reigns over when employers are legally allowed to discipline employees for bashing the company (or the boss) on Facebook or other social media sites. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has ruled that certain employee comments amount to “protected activity” under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

Now the NLRB has published a report that summarizes the out­­comes and reasoning behind 14 cases it decided in the past year involving employees’ use of social media and the legality of em­­ployers’ social media policies.

According to the law firm Littler Mendelson, the decisions appear to establish the following guidelines: “An employee’s social media use is likely to be considered protected concerted activity if the comments: (a) involve the terms and conditions of employment; (b) constitute an ‘outgrowth’ of an earlier discussion about the terms and conditions of work among co-workers; and (c) involve or are directed to fellow co-workers to invite or induce further action.”

Read the full NLRB report at www.tinyurl.com/nlrbsocial. Read the Littler law firm’s analysis at www.tinyurl.com/nlrblittler.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Aaron November 6, 2011 at 9:05 pm

It’s really not difficult. The confusion stems from the fact that some bosses simply don’t want to believe that their workers have any rights if those rights could interfere with the bosses’ ability to run their workplace like an authoritarian state where people have to walk on eggshells and avoid contradicting those in power at all times for fear of reprisal. But, lest I paint with too broad a brush, here’s a basic summary for all you managers out there who do care about your workers’ rights: if you workers complain by themselves, it is not protected. If they complain together, about hours, wages, or working conditions, it is protected. It’s really that simple. Doesn’t matter if it’s face to face, facebook to facebook, or via smoke signals.

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