The National Labor Relations Board (the “Board”) continues its focus on overly-broad work policies – now in a non-union workplace – with a recent decision against Chipotle Mexican Grill. Although the Board found Chipotle violated the National Labor Relations Act (the “Act”) by (1) maintaining overly-broad social media and work policies, (2) ordering an employee to quit circulating a petition, and (3) firing the employee when he refused to do so, it found the employer did not violate the Act by asking the employee to remove certain tweets from his Twitter account. This case provides additional guidance on what is and is not permissible in work rules, particularly as they apply to social media posts by employees.
“For, although common Snarks do no manner of harm, Yet, I feel it my duty to say, Some are Boojums –.” So goes the warning in Lewis Carroll’s 1876 poem The Hunting of the Snark. In the poem, a hunting party pursues the harmless Snark but is warned along the way that some Snarks are actually highly dangerous Boojums. If one meets a Boojum, he will “never be met with again!” At the conclusion of the story, one member of the crew believes he has found a Snark and calls out to his friends – but when they arrive, they find that he has vanished without a trace, “For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.”
Regular readers of the Employment Essentials blog know that we frequently post articles about the interplay between the workplace and social media. Most of our social media posts relate to the National Labor Relations Board’s (“NLRB”) frequent examination of the topic. In fact, two years ago this month, I posted an article about a decision from an Administrative Law Judge with the NLRB Division of Judges who found that Facebook postings constituted protected activity under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”).
About 16 months ago, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) made quite a stir when one of its Administrative Law Judges ruled that it was unlawful for a non-profit to fire 5 workers for violating the agency’s anti-harassment policy when the harassment – done on Facebook – was determined to constitute protected concerted activity over working conditions. We’ll give you one guess as to how the appeal to the full Board turned out.
We recently discussed here the National Labor Relations Board’s (the Board) first-ever ruling on employees’ social media postings. Now, three weeks after its initial decision, which found that Costco’s policies regarding social media were overbroad and could restrict employee activities protected by the National Labor Relations Act, the Board has issued another decision on social media. In Karl Knauz Motors, Inc. d/b/a Knauz BMW and Robert Becker, the NLRB gave employers a modest win.
The far reaching impacts of social media on the workplace have garnered significant attention from this blog – and rightly so. The constant appearance of employee use of Facebook and Twitter on the newswire demands that attention. And we’re not just talking about employees in low profile, private-sector positions here either, folks.
A few months ago, I wrote about how the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) put on its progressive shoes and opined that an employee who posted criticisms of her supervisor on Facebook had engaged in concerted activity worthy of protection under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”). The NLRB filed a complaint against the employer on account of the employer disciplining the employee.
Facebook and other social networking websites can be a great tool to attract customers and prospective employees. However, the websites can also be a headache for employers. As use of social networking websites continues to increase, their use will be front and center in many employment law cases. And not only are employees suffering adverse consequences because of things they post on these sites – as readers of this blog know from this post a few months ago – employers can even get into the act and using these sites improperly themselves.