What happens when employers establish new “social media” policies without considering employees’ union rights? Members may recall from last fall that the National Labor Relations Board had filed an unfair labor practice complaint against American Medical Response of Connecticut, Inc., alleging the company illegally terminated an employee who posted negative comments about her supervisor on her personal Facebook page.
AMR suspended and then terminated the employee alleging that the postings violated AMR’s internet policies, which prohibited employees “from making disparaging, discriminatory or defamatory comments when discussing the Company or the employee’s superiors, co-workers and/or competitors.” The NLRB concluded that the employee’s Facebook posts could constitute protected activity under federal, private-sector labor laws, and that therefore AMR’s internet policy contained illegal provisions that interfered with AMR’s employees exercising their right to engage in “protected, concerted activity” under the Act. That case settled with AMR agreeing to amend its policy.
ebruary, when an unfair labor practice charge was filed against a Connecticut bus company challenging the company’s internet policy. Unlike the AMR case, there are no allegations that the company improperly disciplined any employee. The challenged policy prohibits “[t]he use of electronic communication and/or social media in a manner that might target, offend, disparage, or harm customers, passengers or employees; or in a manner that might violate any other company policy.”
Now comes news that the NLRB will be filing a complaint against Thompson Reuters (a publishing company) that alleges, among other things, that the company’s social networking policy restricted employee speech, and that an employee was improperly disciplined for comments she made on Twitter. This follows up on further action by the Board in F
More and more, we are getting reports of “social media” or online activities policies being established by employers. Typically, these policies are subject to mandatory bargaining under state or federal labor laws. Local affiliate officers can take a look at our own online guidance on this issue at our legal page.