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NLRB Report: Employers’ Social Media Policies Must Be Narrow, Must Not Restrict Right to Engage in Protected Activities

Lexology (01/30/12) Jillian Collins

The U.S. National Labor Relations Board has released a new report providing guidance on the rules employers are allowed to place on employees when discussing work on social media. The NLRB says that “employer policies should not be so sweeping that they prohibit the kinds of activity protected by federal labor law, such as the discussion of wages or working conditions among employees.” However, “an employee’s comments on social media are generally not protected if they are mere gripes not made in relation to group activities among employees.”

The key takeaway for companies is that the NLRB takes the position that broad policies that substantially limit social media communications may violate Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, which protects an employee’s right to engage in concerted activities for the purpose of mutual aid and protection. Employers, especially nonunion firms that handle labor issues less frequently, should be mindful of the requirements of Section 7 of the NLRA when crafting social media policies. Employees must be allowed to discuss with each other the terms and conditions of their employment, regardless of the social media platform.