Social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter have become so engrained in people’s lives that you might not think twice about posting a tweet or status update on something you feel strongly about. However, if you are a business owner, you might not like your employees posting things that could put your company in a poor light. Our team at the Aldrich Law Firm, Ltd., understands that it is important for business owners to know when it is appropriate, and when it is not, to discipline employees when it comes to social media posts.
The National Labor Relations Board outlines the rules in which employees’ words may be protected or unprotected, under the National Labor Relations Act. In particular, your employees may talk about conditions at work, which can include discussing these topics publicly on social media. For example, an employee who has been affected by a superior’s mistake might air her frustration on Facebook. Her co-workers might join in the conversation to offer advice, support or to say they were similarly affected. You might not be happy about the negative publicity, but firing the employees involved may result in wrongful termination accusations.
On the other hand, you may be able to take action in the case of unprofessional or unethical behavior posted by employees that directly or indirectly involves your company. If an employee is discreetly taking photographs of customers he dislikes and posts them with derogatory comments, you would most likely be able to discipline the employee.
Next week, we will discuss social media policies in employment contracts, since it is important to word these clauses correctly to avoid confusion or unfairness. You may learn more about company and employee rights by visiting our employment litigation page.