Having organized labor in your workforce will complicate the creation and enforcement of a social media policy. Potential unionizing activities offer similar problems. Employers must consider traditional labor law principles when creating and enforcing workplace social media policies.
The National Labor Relations Board has issued advice on social media policies. Sears had a policy that prohibited “disparagement of company’s or competitors’ products, services, executive leadership, employees, strategy, and business prospects.” The NLRB’s Division of Advice concluded that the charge against Sears should be dismissed. However, Mr. Borden concludes that the current make-up of the NLRB is more labor friendly and could rule the other way if again presented with a similar policy.
The challenges of drafting a social media policy will be to carry the existing law involving email and surveillance limitations to the current age of web publishing. This is not a unique challenge. You can see the same challenge with FINRA in the financial services industry.
If you have organized labor in your workforce and are concerned about social media use by your employees you should spend a few minutes and read Borden’s article.
Seth Borden is a partner in the New York office of McKenna Long & Aldridge and a member of the firm’s labor and employment practice. He co-writes the firm’s blog, Labor Relations Today, covering developments in labor law.