Wednesday, June 12, 2013

O'Brien on The Top Ten NLRB Cases on Facebook Firings and Employer Social Media Policies

ObrienneylonChristine Neylon O'Brien (Boston College - Carroll School of Management) has just posted on SSRN her forthcoming article in the Oregon Law Review: The Top Ten NLRB Cases on Facebook Firings and Employer Social Media Policies.

Here is the abstract:

Social media have profoundly changed communications for our personal and professional lives, from social networking to job searching, to social movements and more. Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, tumblr, instagram, blogs, as well as emerging social media concepts, have re-imagined our methods and means for speech, interaction and connection. Computers, iPads and smartphones are the means for this intense multi-platform engagement in social media, resulting in the blurring of work and personal time, on work and personal equipment as well as accounts. This further complicates the employment relationship as companies seek to protect their brand, trade secrets and employee communications by publishing social media policies (SMPs). In the context of unfair labor practice cases, the National Labor Relations Board has been reviewing employer social media policies and actions that interfere with rights that apply whether employees are in a union or not. This article outlines the top ten cases in this area to instruct employers and employees on what policies and comments are lawful or protected. The cases encompass employer policies that an employee would reasonably perceive to infringe upon employee rights to engage in National Labor Relations Act-protected concerted activities, and instances where an employee is disciplined or discharged for engaging in protected activity.

Hard to think of a more relevant and timely topic in the area of American labor law. I was just explaining to one of my colleagues the other day that much of the action in traditional labor law in the next few years might be with regard to the Section 7 rights of non-union employees.  This article provides much needed guidance of what those evolving rights might look like in the social media milieu.


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