NLRB Signals Retreat on Cases Involving Employee Comments in Social Media

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In three recent cases, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has indicated that employee comments about their employment on social media web sites like Facebook may not be protected under federal labor law. These cases signal a retreat from the NLRB’s trend in late 2010 and early 2011 to issue complaints involving employer discipline of employees who posted complaints about their employment online.

Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects employees who engage in “concerted activity” for their “mutual aid and protection.” The NLRB had long held that an employer could restrict public statements by its employees, provided that the purpose of the employer’s policy was to maintain a “civil and decent work place” and did not explicitly restrict employees’ rights to engage in protected, concerted activity, such as supporting an organizing campaign.

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