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Employer social media policies too broad, NLRB says

The National Labor Relations Board has released the third in a series of memos that detail common pitfalls in employment social media policies.

The report, which was released last month, stressed that policy provisions are unlawful if they interfere with workers’ ability to exercise their labor rights by discouraging communication among co-workers on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

The report details acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon’s rulings in seven recent social media cases in which parts or all of company policies restricting employee social media use overstepped labor law boundaries. 

Such boundaries are breached if the employer’s rule “would reasonably tend to chill employees in the exercise of their rights,” according to the report. 

Solomon concludes that social media policy rules are unlawful if they are ambiguous as to their application to Section 7, which deals with an employee’s right to join a labor union.

“I hope that this report, with its specific examples of various employer policies and rules, will provide additional guidance in this area,” Solomon said in a statement.

In the first six cases, restrictions on communicating confidential information, “friending” co-workers, privacy, online tone, prior permission and expressing opinions were deemed unlawful if they were too broad or overbearing in their provisions.

Additionally, the NLRB found provisions on contact with government agencies to be unlawful if they restricted employees from their protected right to converse with NLRB agents about working conditions or to respond to inquiries from government agencies regarding the conditions.

Dolan Media Newswires

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