In a society becoming intertwined with social media, it seems that Facebook’s influence affects more aspects of everyday life. A recent issue of growing concern in relation to the popular fascination with social networking is the amount of control an employer can have over what their workers say about their jobs on social media profiles.
Recently, numerous cases and more than 100 complaints have been filed with the National Labor Relations Board concerning work-related Facebook or Twitter posts. More and more businesses are implementing social media policies in attempts to curb disparaging or defamatory comments posted online by employees.
The rise in social media cases has prompted the NLRB to try and define exactly which types of comments are acceptable, and where to draw the line with employers’ control over their employees’ social media liberties.
Federal law allows workers to discuss certain issues, such as their jobs or working conditions, no matter if the discourse occurs in person or via social media. The National Labor Relations Act protects employees and permits them to post comments or converse about topics of “protected concerted activity.”
When this crosses over into complaining, badmouthing or discriminatory remarks, it’s not always as easy to define. Some would like to believe that employees cannot criticize a workplace in any way on social media, but this isn’t true, either.
It’s all too easy for a disgruntled employee to take to the Internet in order to express their dissatisfaction with their work situation. The Internet preserves these comments forever, but they were born out of ill-tempered feelings and of resentment toward an employer.
This isn’t like talking with co-workers by the water cooler. There is no solid proof in verbal conversation, and comments are soon forgotten. What some people don’t realize is how easy it is for employers to monitor employees’ Facebook pages and see everything that they have to say.
In a country built on the idea of freedom of speech, it’s a little discouraging when that right is made difficult to stand by because of one person’s unacceptable comments. Then again, a company shouldn’t be blatantly attacked because of one disgruntled ex-employee’s point of view.
As Facebook continues to grow its empire and permeate common culture, employer social networking policies may require a much more defined set of regulations and even punishments for those who break the rules.
Collins, Grant T. “NLRB: Law Protects Employee’s Facebook Comments, Employer’s Social Medial Policy Is Unlawful” http://www.minnesotaemploymentlawreport.com/nlrb/nlrb-protects-employees-facebook-status/
Hahanel, Sam. “Facebook policies tricky for employers, workers” Associated Press http://www.freep.com/article/20110926/BUSINESS07/110926031/Facebook-policies-tricky-employers-workers
Longnecker, Emily. “Employer Facebook policay changing workplace social networking” wthr.com Indianapolis http://www.wthr.com/story/15554691/employer-facebook-policy-changing-workplace-social-networking