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HR and Tax Newsletter - FEBRUARY 2011

Social Media

When an employee criticizes their company, boss, or even human resources department on social networking sites, an employer who reacts thoughtlessly may find itself in legal trouble. For example, a non-union employee was fired after posting critical Facebook comments relating to her manager. Because the comment drew supportive responses from co-workers, the National Labor Relations Board found the employer in violation of the National Labor Relations Act. The company’s blogging and Internet policy had interfered with the employee’s right to engage in a concerted activity.

This case shows that employers should narrow prohibited social media activities to those that are discriminatory or harassing. Comments prohibited on social media sites should coincide with comments prohibited in the workplace. Employers should consider whether questionable comments are protected by the NLRB, Equal Employment Opportunity, or other laws allowing employees to oppose employment practices.