Apple Blue Ivy Moonbeam, a Generation X HR Director who considers herself super savvy when it came to all things Interweb, drafted a social media policy to include in FacePlace, Inc.’s employee handbook. FacePlace is a non-union workplace with over 300 employees, most of whom work from various “virtual” offices away from FacePlace’s home office. Convinced she created the best social media policy ever, Apple submitted the policy to the NLRB for review.
Which of the following policies do you think the NLRB found lawful?
A. You should never share confidential information with a team member unless the person has a need to know the information to perform their job.
B. Offensive, demeaning, abusive or inappropriate remarks are as out of place online as they are offline, even if they are unintentional.
C. Employees should avoid harming the image and integrity of the company and any harassment, bullying, discrimination, or retaliation that would not be permissible in the workplace is not permissible between team workers online, even if it is done after hours, from your home network.
D. The NLRB found all three unlawful.
The correct answer is C. With respect to A, the NLRB found employees would construe these provisions as prohibiting them from discussing information regarding their terms and conditions of employment. With respect to B, the NLRB found that this provision proscribes a broad spectrum of communications that would include protected criticisms of the employer’s labor policies or treatment of employees. With respect to C, the NLRB found this provision would not reasonably be construed to apply to Section 7 activity because the rule contains a list of plainly egregious conduct, such as bullying and discrimination.
HR Takeaway: If you follow the HR/Employment Law blogosphere, you know the NLRB’s crack down on employers is always a hot topic, and seems to change at a quick clip. This highlights how critical regular — at least annual — policy reviews can be to ensure employers avoid liability for overbroad handbook policies. If in doubt about a policy, check with legal counsel — better safe than sorry!