Earlier today, the National Labor Relations Board Acting General Counsel, Lafe Solomon, released a third report on social media issues and the workplace. The NLRB released its first report on social media issues in August 2011 and a second report in January 2012.
The third report focuses solely on employer policies regarding the use of social media. The report discusses seven recent cases before the NLRB. In six of the cases, the Board determined that at least part of each policy was overbroad and unlawfully restricted employees’ Section 7 rights. In the seventh case, the Board concluded the employer’s social media policy was lawful.
Here are a few interesting nuggets from the cases discussed in the report:
- A provision in an employer’s social media policy that instructed employees to “[t]hink carefully about ‘friending’ co-workers” was unlawful “because it would discourage communications among co-workers, and thus it necessarily interferes with Section 7 activity.”
- A provision that instructed employees to “[a]dopt a friendly tone when engaging online. Don’t pick fights . . . Remember to speak in a professional tone” was unlawfully overbroad because “employees would reasonably construe this rule to prohibit robust but protected discussions about working conditions or unionism.”
- A provision that explicitly allowed employees to express online personal opinions regarding the workplace, provided that access was restricted to other company employees, was unlawful “because it precludes employees from discussing and sharing terms and conditions of employment with non-employees.”
- A provision that required employees to report “unsolicited or inappropriate electronic communications” to the president of the company or the president’s designated agent was unlawful because it would deter employees from communicating with fellow employees and unions about their terms and conditions of employment.