The New York Times reported this morning about a case in which an employee was terminated for criticizing her supervisor on her Facebook page. Most of us would say, ok, here's another example of someone being foolish enough to share private opinions or actions on a public social network and assume that the company was within its rights to fire the employee. Not necessarily.
The National Labor Relations Board has accused the company of illegally firing the employee based on the National Labor Relations Act, arguing that workers have a federally protected right to form unions and get together to talk about working conditions. In this case, the "getting together" was on Facebook, and the company's policy against talking about the company in social networks may be in violation of the law. While this case will not be heard by a judge until January of next year, it raises important issues, not the least of which is the idea that communication on Facebook is the equivalent of getting together around the water cooler. The upcoming decision may have far-reaching implications for both employees and employers using social media.
Drawing up a social media policy that is too restrictive or too all-encompassing may actually violate labor laws. You should seek the counsel of an attorney before you develop, circulate and enforce your social media policy.
Consider the potential consequences whenever you post opinions, photographs, videos or other information that may cast an unfavorable light on you as a person or employee. Social networks are open and searchable. Your reputation is just a few clicks away from potential harm.
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