What is Protected Social Media Activity Under Federal Law?

January 5, 2015

Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) affords employees with the right to discuss their wages and other terms and conditions of employment, both among themselves and with non-employees. Employees have a protected right to seek help from third parties regarding their working conditions, including conversations with fellow employees, going to the press, speaking at a union rally, and conferring with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

The nature of this protected activity does not change if the employees’ statements were communicated via the Internet or social media. Section 7 therefore applies equally to traditional “off-line” communications and online conversations alike, including blog posts, tweets, Facebook comments, and other forms of social networking. For example, an employee who sends a Facebook message to her colleagues about the employer’s working conditions may be afforded the same protection as a group of employees who discuss corporate wage issues during the workplace lunch hour.

Protected activities on social media could include:

  • Protest of supervisory activities;
  • Statements relating to employee staffing levels implicating working conditions;
  • Communications to the public related to an ongoing labor dispute;
  • Exchanges with reporters about wages and other terms of employment;
  • Complaints and criticism about a supervisor’s attitude and performance;
  • Use of an employer’s name and logo to communicate with fellow employees or the public about a labor dispute; or
  • Engagement in protected activities on the employer’s premises during non-work time and in non-work areas.

If an employer disciplines or fires an employee for engaging in protected activity, or institutes a workplace rule or policy that would prohibit employees from engaging in such activity, the employer can face serious programs, such as a lawsuit, unfair labor charge, repaying the employees lost wages, and paying their attorneys fees and costs. So this begs the question:

Should You Fire over Facebook?

Many companies have disciplined their employees over their social media posts or instituted policies prohibiting certain online activities. But are these employment practices and policies legal? In my next webinar, I will teach you about important labor and employment law issues in the context of social media in the workplace and how to manage employee social media use.

January 22 | 12:00-1:30 est | $150 Live or OnDemand

1.5 Hours of CLE Credits Approved in Florida and Louisiana

Approval Pending in California, Georgia, South Carolina, and Nevada

Register Now for "Should You Fire over Facebook"

Social media law attorney, author, professor, and keynote speaker Ethan Wall will:

  • Identify protected employee speech under the NLRA
  • Distinguish the lawfulness of discipline for employee social media use
  • Analyze legal from illegal social media policies and rules
  • Teach you how to draft lawful social media policies
  • Set forth techniques to maximize compliance with federal labor law

Questions?

Email: ethan@socialmedialawandorder.com

Call: (407)484-5100

 


Contact Us Today for a Free Consultation

[id^="om-"]
[id^="om-"]