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NLRB: Give That Social Media Policy a Second Look
By: Christine Geraci
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If your business has, or is thinking about creating, a social media policy for employees, listen up: The National Labor Relations Board's general counsel wants to make sure the language you're using in your policies doesn't violate the National Labor Relations Act.
 
According to NLRB general counsel, the problem here is that many social media policies addressing the online conduct of employees contain broad language that in fact violates Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, which addresses the rights of unionized employees to engage in "protected, concerted activity for their mutual aid and protection." 
 
The type of language the NLRB found unlawful might surprise you. 
 
For instance, it's actually unlawful to tell employees not to release confidential company information. 
 
Prohibiting employees from using the company's logo is also a no-no. So is prohibiting them from discussing legal matters, or friending each other.
 
It's not so much what you're prohibiting, but the way you say it. If the language is too broad, it can be deemed unlawful because it could be interpreted as, say, prohibiting employees from openly discussing labor relations issues or criticizing company work conditions, for example. 
 
Bottom line: Be more specific. You must give specific examples of the types of online behavior you are discouraging — or full-on outlawing — if you want to pass muster with the NLRB. 
 
Announcements like this only underscore the importance of regularly reviewing and updating your social media policies. The social web is constantly changing and our savvy continues to evolve — so too should our policies. These should be living, breathing documents that see the light of day for a thorough review at least once per year, and preferably more. 
 
Has your company's social media policy been updated as a result of the NLRB's findings? 


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About the Author
Christine Geraci is the Social Media/Promotions Specialist at MVP Health Care in Schenectady, NY. Connect with her on Twitter @christinegeraci.
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