As our followers are aware, a “hot” issue is emerging as to exactly what an employee can say on social media outlets as as Facebook when being critical of the boss at work. The National Labor (“NLRB”) Relations Board is interested in this chatter because under the National Labor Relations Act employees have a legal right to discuss with one another wages, benefits and other terms and conditions of employment. This is because the right to organize a labor union is protected and such issues are often the subject of collective bargaining.
We are not aware of any court cases yet which have ruled on exactly what employees can and cannot say on their Facebook pages, but the general rule that seems to be emerging is that when two or more employees are discussing their workplace issues, such communication is “protected” under the logic that employees can band together to discuss their wages, their working conditions, etc., even if how they say it isn’t very nice. Yet, when a single employee just “takes a shot” at his/her boss out of anger or spite such a negative comment may not be “protected,” especially if such communication is not part of an ongoing discussion employees are having about their working conditions and the boss.
Yet, please be mindful that this is an emerging area of the law and thus unsettled at the moment. A good practice is to have clear work rules about brand loyality and the sorts of conduct and language which are “out of bounds.” If the boss sees an unfavorable comment in the world of social media, beware of jumping into disciplinary action. Could mean big trouble, so get competent advice on how to handle such matters. As in all disciplinary matters, taking a deep breath to sort out the facts and getting solid advice from a trusted expert is highly recommended before deciding upon a course of action.
As strategic Orlando Human Resources consultants and business partners, we do our best to keep our followers posted on current HR issues so that they can stay ahead of the next curve in the road.