Have you got a rock-solid social media policy that you're proud of? What if I told you that that policy might be an unlawful infringement on your employees' rights?
Yep, the very thing we were telling you a few months ago you needed in order to defend against fired employee lawsuits might now be committing an unfair labor practice in and of itself.
Last week, a National Labor Relations Board administrative law judge ruled against Dish Network in a case brought about by a member of the Communication Workers of America union.
The underlying charges were filed by the Communication Workers of America was that Dish Network violated Section 8(a)(1), (3), and (4) of the National Labor Relations Act by maintaining various policies in its Employee Handbook, which violated employees' rights.
In particular, the ruling found that the company's Social Media policy was unlawful on two grounds. First, it banned employees from making "disparaging or defamatory comments about DISH Network." The Board held that analogous electronic limitations on negative commentary violated the Act.
Second, the policy banned employees from engaging in negative electronic discussion during "Company time." The Board has found that equivalent rules,
...which ban union activities during "Company time" are presumptively invalid because they fail to clearly convey that solicitation can still occur during breaks and other non-working hours at the enterprise.
At the heart of this case was whether the company would have reacted the same way toward an ununionized employee who was speaking negatively about the employer on company time. Dish was unable to prove that they would have.
Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.