Employee Use of Social Media

A few of the tracks at RSA discussed employee use of social media, the security risks it may cause, and employees’ rights and advice for employers. A recent settlement highlights some of the issues.

A Connecticut American Medical Response (AMR) employee was fired for making negative comments on her Facebook account about her boss. According the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the complaint alleged that the discharge violated federal labor law because the employee was engaged in protected or concerted activity when she posted the comments about her supervisor, and responded to further comments from her co-workers. Additionally, the company maintained overly-broad rules in its employee handbook regarding blogging, Internet posting, and communications between employees.

Under the National Labor Relations Act, employees may discuss the terms and conditions of their employment with co-workers and others. “Concerted activity” includes any activity by individual employees united in pursuit of a common goal. The activity must be in concert with or on the authority of other employees, and not solely by and on behalf of the employee himself. (Meyers Industries, 281 NLRB 882 (1986)).

There are also potential First Amendment issues when an employer attempts to limit employees’ speech on social media. Consider including in any company policy a provision on the use of social media by employees. Social media can potentially mean huge security risks for employers. Any policy should be clear, concise and understood by employees. It is also highly recommended an attorney review any policy.

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