Monday, April 2, 2012

An good example of an overly broad social media policy

Reuters is reporting that a union representing employees at a New York grocery chain has asked the NLRB to investigate whether the store’s social media policy is violates employees’ rights to engage in protected concerted activity under the National Labor Relations Act.

According to the article, the policy in question “forbids employees from disclosing confidential information—including salaries—on social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter, and from discrediting the store’s practices or products.” For its part, the employer commented that “the store’s policy is meant simply to remind employees to use ‘reasonable guidelines’ when posting to social media sites.”

The employer’s goal is commendable, and reminiscent of my four word social media policy, “Think before you click.” But, if the article is correctly reporting the scope of the challenged policy, it goes well beyond reasonable. The clearest example of protected, concerted activity is conversations about wages. You cannot have a policy that prohibits employees from talking about how much they make, and that rule doesn’t change whether the conversations are at the water cooler, in the break room, or over the Internet. If I was the company’s lawyer, I’d be telling them to change the policy ASAP, before the NLRB orders them to do so.

[Hat tip: Delaware Employment Law Blog]