[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Yesterday afternoon (3/18/15), the National Labor Relations Board’s General Counsel, Richard F. Griffin, Jr., issued a memorandum (Memorandum GC 15-04) summarizing the Board’s position on several social media rules commonly found in employee handbooks.
The GC’s memorandum addresses several specific types of employee handbook rules, including confidentiality rules, rules restricting use of company logos and other intellectual property, and rules regarding employee conduct toward management, supervisors, and colleagues. The memorandum also provides commentary regarding recent cases in which the Board scrutinized social media-related employee handbook rules, and offers additional insight into the Board’s analysis and decision-making process.
By way of background, Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act gives employees the right to engage in “concerted activities” for their “mutual aid or protection.” Protected concerted activity often occurs when employees discuss a collective employee concern about work terms and conditions. Protected activity may include engaging in conversations about wages, benefits, work hours, or workplace safety.
Under Section 8(a)(1), an employer violates the Act if it maintains a work rule (such as a social media or confidentiality policy) that “tends to chill” employees in the exercise of Section 7 rights. Therefore, if your social media policy, confidentiality policy, or other policy would reasonably lead employees to believe that they cannot talk about their terms and conditions of employment, it would be considered unlawful by the Board.
The Board continues to be very active in scrutinizing employee handbook rules. Employers are encouraged to review their social media, confidentiality, and other high risk policies to ensure all policies are lawful. If you have questions about this Memorandum or your company’s policies, please contact any member of the KDDK Labor and Employment Law Practice Team.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]