NLRB Warns Employers on Social Media Overstepping

The concept of getting in trouble at work thanks to social media is nothing new (just ask Anthony Weiner). But this week the National Labor Relations Board published a memo that says enforcing restrictive social media rules at the office may be a violation of federal labor laws.

FBN’s Rich Edson reports the general counsel’s office at the NLRB is examining a case involving supermarket chain Giant, which established rules against employees posting photos on social media featuring the store’s logo or information surrounding the workplace.

According to the NLRB memo, it is unlawful to prohibit workers from posting information regarding the employer, even if it is deemed by the company to be “confidential” or “non-public.”

Reed Smith attorney Joel Barras tells Edson, “If the employee is bashing his supervisor in front of hundreds of thousands of individuals including co-workers because of the way he is treated at work,  the NLRB will say, ‘That’s protected, and you can’t fire that employee.’”

However, Barras says employees can still be fired for bashing the product sold by the employer, or advising consumers not to buy the product in question.

“That’s a different story, and that is not protected speech by federal labor law,” says Barras.

The NLRB memo comes just ahead of the scheduled Senate vote for this week on two nominees to fill the organization’s board.

“The current board is operating with controversial recess appointments,” reports Edson, made by President Obama earlier this year. “A federal appeals court ruled in January those appointments were unconstitutional.”