As most of us know by now, social media or anything on the Internet isn’t really private. In fact, businesses spend a significant amount of time monitoring their employee’s online profiles. Inappropriate comments or behavior can lead to disciplinary actions or even termination. But is this legal?
Under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) of 1935, workers rights are protected. The National Labor Relations Board supervises and interprets legal proceedings related to the NLRA and it’s relation to contemporary social media activity.
In 2012, the National Labor Relations Board determined that if more than one employee participates in using social media to complain or criticize their job, co-workers or boss, they are protected from being fired.
Sec. 7. [§ 157.] Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection, and shall also have the right to refrain from any or all such activities except to the extent that such right may be affected by an agreement requiring membership in a labor organization as a condition of employment.
However, employees can’t say whatever they want. Which comments and activity fit the criteria outlined in Sec 7. is still up for debate. Employees that make these comments on their own, with no participation from others are not protected. In fact, their complaints and criticism could even be considered libel. In such a case, the employee could be terminated.
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