Are you guilty of having a generic social media policy that reads similar to “employees are prohibited from making defamatory remarks about [company name] on any media”? If so, now is the time to pull up that policy and tighten up language, especially if it has been used as grounds for termination.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has made it clear in a handful of rulings, most recently with Chipotle, that it is illegal for employers to discipline employees for social media acts that “advocate for improvements to their working conditions.” Employees are free to congregate on social media channels to publicly discuss the terms and conditions of their employment.
As a brand manager, the NLRB’s ruling may have completely turned your world upside down. Not only do you have to worry about customer complaints, but you may also have employees using social platforms to petition for a new employee dress code, discuss the hostile work environment or even openly discuss how to address their overbearing manager. And there’s little you can do about it.
As you review your social media policy, make sure you understand an employee’s rights as defined by the NLRB. Some notables include:
Also, be sure to heed the following rules and advice:
Regardless of the NLRB’s restrictions, it’s important to keep a pulse on what’s being said online by employees. Rather than requesting employees pull their post immediately, work with them one-on-one to address and remedy their complaint. After all, they were hired for a reason and may have escalated their issue to social media, as many do, because they were not being heard.
For more information regarding the NLRB and understanding employee rights, visit: https://www.nlrb.gov/rights-we-protect/whats-law/employers/interfering-employee-rights-section-7-8a1