It might seem obvious not to share extremely personal information about co-workers and trade secrets, but that information does get posted and employers must address the possible infractions in their policies.
It’s clear that the benefit of any doubt will be a ruling in favor of employees versus employers as social media continues to evolve, particularly in California, and businesses should take notice. California is one of six states where employers can’t ask their employees for social network passwords. More states are likely to follow suit soon.
Ultimately, employees still have to be smart and use common sense when it comes to social media. Yes, social media is free and gives us all an enormous opportunity to communicate our likes and dislikes, but that freedom can have a price – and it could be your job.
In the end, employees should be mindful of posts on any social media sites. Indeed, most posts are not protected, but certain workplace-related statements might be ultimately viewed as discussions about working conditions, wages or benefits. Similarly, employers should also be mindful of what might have once been reactionary responses to social media posts and instead evaluate the content of the posts.
But, ultimately, it is the job of the NLRB to create rulings that are clear to eliminate confusion and protect workers. Employers are on the frontlines trying to handle the fallout of social media behavior and comply with unclear and potentially conflicting rulings and regulations. That’s the real key to protecting everyone in work-related discussions.
Michelle Lee Flores is a partner in the L.A. office of Fisher & Phillips LLP and represents employers in all aspects of employment law.