by Jody Raines
According to a report by the National Labor Relations Board published on May 30th, there are many clauses that employers are now utilizing in their social media policies that could be challenged by a court of law.
The NLRB’s position is that an employer may prohibit their employees from posting as the company or in the name of the company or in a manner that could be attributed to the employer if the associate does not have express written permission to do so.
An employee may not post anything as a formal opinion of the company or organization without permission either.
A verbatim copy of a social media policy that is approved by the NLRB is available. In this policy there are certain requirements that an employer can request of their employees, including:
- Know and follow rules.
- Post respectful content.
- Be accurate.
- Be honest.
- Post only appropriate content.
- Never retaliate.
Confidentiality clauses are acceptable. The NLRB approved policy states that associates should “maintain the confidentiality of employer trade secrets and private or confidential information. Trade secrets may include information regarding the development of systems, processes, products, know-how and technology. Do not post internal reports, policies, procedures or other internal business-related confidential communications.”
When it comes to issues of financial disclosure, obviously laws should be taken into consideration. Personal opinions should be identified as those of the individual and not that of the employer.
An approved social media policy per the NLRB guidelines stresses that employees should not speak to the media. Representing the company to the media typically falls upon corporate affiars or public relations departments. With social media and direct access to the press, employees should be cautious to not present their opinion as being that of the company they work for.
As social media continues to evolve, the NLRB opinion may be challenged. For help with social media policies for your organization and a review of your policy manual to be sure it’s up to date, contact the team at HR Knowledge.