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Boss Can Fire You For Posting on Facebook

Trump's NLRB has upheld employer social media policies

Brian Young's picture
Aug 28, 2020

As social media has exploded over the last decade, many companies have come up with policies that govern both what employees say on official company pages as well as their private page. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently took a look at whether these policies covering what employees do on their own time are legal.

In a series of rulings, the NLRB upheld an employer's right to have a social media policy that protects the companies reputation. Examples include prohibiting employers from posting about proprietary information about the employer or the company and requiring employees to respect their co-workers online by not harassing them, creating a hostile work environment, or disrupting fellow co-workers work. In Motor City Pawn Brokers Inc., 369 NLRB No. 132 the board also found that an employer could prohibit employees from communicating to customers or third parties any disparaging claim in iwhich “the effect of or intention of which is to cause embarrassment, disparagement, damage or injury to the reputation, business, or standing” of the company.

However, the board did rule that employers couldn’t prohibit employees from talking to each other online. In Union Tank Car Company, 369 NLRB No. 120, the board found that the company’s ban on disparaging comments was meant to silence workers from talking to each other about their job, which was illegal.

Basically, the NLRB found that companies can limit the communication on social media that is public. If it is private, especially to a co-worker, businesses are more limited. It is important to remember that what you do on your own time can have consequences at work. It is becoming more and more common for people on all sides of the political spectrum to use social media posts to get people fired. In some cases, this has been successfully used against far-right extremists, like those marching in Charlottesville, but it can also be used against workers who post pro-union messages on their Facebook page. Simply put, be careful what you post online.

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