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August 30, 2012Posted by on
For all those out there suffering under the abject tyranny of their employer’s oppressive social media policy, hope is on the horizon. According to a report published last month by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the social media policies enforced by a number of Virginia employers may be overly broad, and therefore unenforceable.
The Board’s report, now the third of its kind, examines seven cases in which acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon found fault in the social media policy enforced by an employer on its employees. In six of cases, Solomon concluded that “at least some of the provisions in the employer’s policies and rules are overbroad and thus unlawful under the National Labor Relations Act.”
To help differentiate between lawful and unlawful policies, the report cited the following provisions as examples of overly broad and, therefore, unlawful policies:
TREAT EVERYONE WITH RESPECT
Offensive, demeaning, abusive or inappropriate remarks are as out of place online as they are offline, even if they are unintentional. We expect you to abide by the same standards of behavior both in the workplace and in your social media communications.
OTHER [EMPLOYER] POLICIES THAT APPLY
Think carefully about ‘friending’ co-workers . . . on external social media sites. Communications with coworkers on such sites that would be inappropriate in the workplace are also inappropriate online, and what you say in your social media channels could become a concern in the workplace.
In each of these examples, it was determined that the wording overstepped the boundaries of labor laws by failing to properly define the parameters of the policy and by infringing on the employee’s ability to communicate with co-workers via social media.
A full version of the Board’s report, which includes a full-length example of a lawful social media policy, can be found in the links on the NLRB’s site, here. For more information on contract law, or to discuss the legality of your employer’s social media policy, feel free to contact Westlake Legal Group. You can find us on Twitter and Facebook via the links at the bottom of this blog.