Costco recently had their social media policy invalidated by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
Costco’s policy basically prevented employees from making statements on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter that could damage the company or other employees’ reputations, reports Inside Counsel.
In invalidating the policy, the NLRB found that it was overly broad and violated Costco’s employees’ free speech rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
If you are like most small business employers, you may be asking yourself just what is the NLRB, the NLRA, and if the NLRB’s decision has any bearing on you. As usual, the answer is that “it depends.”
The NLRA generally covers employees in unions or employees engaged in “concerted activity.” The NLRA protects these employees and their rights to engage in union activity and to work collectively to better their terms and conditions of employment. The NLRB is just the board that enforces the NLRA.
For employers with union employees (like Costco), you will want to pay attention to the NLRB decision as you may have to update your social media policy too. Because the NLRB gave little guidance on what is a proper policy, you may have to work with an employment attorney in shaping the best policy for your business.
For other employers, you should be aware that the NLRA may still affect you if the employees are engaged in “concerted activity.” So you cannot ignore the NLRB’s decision completely.
So if you have a social media policy, and you are unsure if it is enforceable, it may be worthwhile to talk to an employment attorney to determine if it is valid.
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