Companies may wonder why their social media policies are a cause for concern.
What’s wrong with a company prohibiting its employees from bad mouthing their place of employment online? Shouldn’t employees be loyal to their workplace?
Unfortunately, it is not that simple. The law protects employees who engage in a certain kind of complaining.
Close attention from the NLRB
At its most basic, Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) gives employees the right to engage in concerted activities for their “mutual aid or protection,” including communicating with each other about the terms and conditions of their employment and communicating to third parties (e.g. customers and the public) about ongoing labor disputes.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is paying careful attention to social media policies that could be seen to chill the exercise of Section 7 activity, and therefore violate Section 8(a)(1). This scrutiny and Section 7’s protections apply equally to unionized and non-unionized workforces.