Can employees be fired for posting or commenting about work-related topics on social media sites? Well, it depends. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has published two reports that summarized recent cases involving social media issues (August 2011) and updates (January 24, 2012) in this area of law. (The latest report is attached.)
The reports underscore two main points:
- Employer policies should not be so sweeping that they prohibit the kinds of activity protected by federal labor law, such as the discussion of wages or working conditions among employees.
- An employee's comments on social media are generally not protected if they are mere gripes not made in relation to group activity among employees.
Lawyer Kelly Shoening wrote, "Social media use in the workplace is a continuously evolving area of law. The cases in the NLRB's latest report illustrate that questions surrounding employee social media posts and employer policies are extremely fact-specific. In devising a social media policy, employers should avoid using overly broad language and should clearly define key terms so that the policy is not construed as restricting lawful employee activity."
Barry Judge, the Chief Marketing Officer at Best Buy, discusses (in this video) the different ways Best Buy uses social media.
Find Best Buy's Social Media Policy at http://forums.bestbuy.com/t5/Welcome-News/Best-Buy-Social-Media-Policy/td-p/20492. What would the lawyer think about this policy?