Employment Law Update - July 2011: NLRB Targets “Facebook Firings” and Social Media Policies


The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the agency that recently filed an unfair labor practice complaint against Boeing Co. for deciding to build 787 Dreamliners in South Carolina, has also drawn attention for prosecuting complaints against employers that took action against employees for negative Facebook posts.

Employers are disciplining workers over misuse of social media. According to a survey released May 2, 2011, 42 percent of corporate compliance officers who responded reported that their organizations have disciplined employees for activities on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn; 31 percent said their employer has adopted policies specifically addressing the use of social media sites outside of work.

At issue in the NLRB’s “Facebook Firing” cases is whether terminating employees for making disparaging online posts, and having policies prohibiting such posts, violates the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The NLRA guarantees both union and non-union employees the right to “engage in … concerted activities for the purpose of … mutual aid or protection,” including the right to complain about terms and conditions of employment.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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