When most people think of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), if they ever do, they think of a federal government agency charged with investigating and stopping unfair labor practices.
But the agency’s mandate isn’t limited to unionized shops. In fact, it extends to any U.S. company whose employees use social media.
That would be, uh, most every company. Even yours.
So you want to pay attention. Otherwise, there’s the possibility you could end up with a court order to comply with an NLRB decision or an employee civil suit.
As described on its website, the NLRB “protects the rights of most private-sector employees to join together, with or without a union, to improve their wages and working conditions.”
On May 30, the agency issued new guidance on what is permissible in a company social media policy. The report was the third pronouncement from the NLRB and the most detailed yet. The first two were about employer actions taken against employees who had been disciplined for social media policy violations. The third focused upon seven, actual employer policies.
Guess what? The NLRB found problems in all of them… except the last one, which they actually liked. So, we finally have definitive guidance on what is lawful in the area of social media labor law.
“In the first six cases, I have concluded that at least some of the provisions in the employers’ policies and rules are overbroad and thus unlawful under the National Labor Relations Act. In the last case, I have concluded that the entire social media policy, as revised, is lawful under the Act….” – NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon.
Make Life Easier
If you don’t have a social media policy yet, you should start by modeling yours after number seven. You can find it at the end of The Acting General Counsel’s OM 12_59 Report Concerning Social Media Cases. Most companies should also include guidance on IT security. If you are a highly-regulated company, in the financial sector, for example, your policy should include other points, as well.
If you already have a social media policy, you ought to examine the NLRB’s guidance closely, then take a look at yours and see how many violations you can find.
There are plenty of labor lawyers who question whether NLRB’s social media guidance will ever stand up in court. But until a judge strikes it down, you better take it seriously.
Need help with your program? Contact us right now at 202.630.8014 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation.
SCOTT PETERSON, co-founder of Relay Station Social Media LLC, has over a decade of experience in market, securities, and regulatory communications. His firm provides strategic communications consulting, integrated Internet marketing, compliance training, and more to a wide range of organizations.
To find out how you can receive a free Amplification Guide to learn advanced social media techniques, click here now.