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June 29, 2012

HR Fact Friday: NLRB and Social Media

Filed under: Employment Law,General HR Buzz8:35 am

Just a few weeks ago you read about the latest guidance from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on how employers can lawfully regulate employee activities on social media such as Facebook. In its guidance, the NLRB is acting to enforce the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Many employers make the mistake of assuming that this law only applies to a business with a unionized workplace or where a union has been proposed. Although the NLRA does apply to such businesses with such situations, it also applies to employers without unions. The most commonly applied provision in non-union settings is Section 7 of the NLRA, the provision prohibiting an employer from discriminating against employees who engage in concerted activity. This section permits employees to engage in concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection. Regardless of union status, employees must be free to discuss the terms and conditions of employment without fear of retaliation. In an effort to further explain the meaning of this law, the NLRB recently unveiled a website page that details the rights of employees to engaged in concerted activities. According to the NLRB, the webpage “tells the stories of more than a dozen recent cases involving protected concerted activity, which can be viewed by clicking points on a map. Among the cases: A construction crew fired after refusing to work in the rain near exposed electrical wires; a customer service representative who lost her job after discussing her wages with a coworker; an engineer at a vegetable packing plant fired after reporting safety concerns affecting other employees; a paramedic fired after posting work-related grievances on Facebook; and poultry workers fired after discussing their grievances with a newspaper reporter.” You can see the new webpage here: http://www.nlrb.gov/concerted-activity

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