Employment Law

Compliance Week Looks to Hudson on Social Media Policies

Esra Hudson, a litigation partner in our Employment & Labor Practice Group, recently spoke with Compliance Week for a November 23rd article on federal labor law challenges employers may face when attempting to address social media use through policy.

In October, the article reports, the National Labor Review Board (NLRB) filed a complaint against a company alleging it had violated labor laws when firing an employee for badmouthing a supervisor on her personal Facebook page. 

The complaint is prompting companies to review their social media policies and others to consider adopting one, Hudson told Compliance Week.  “This is clearly something employers should be concerned about,” she said.  “The NLRB has let employers know that this is on their radar and people need to pay attention to it.” 

The NLRB says that the Facebook postings are protected concerted activity under the National Labor Relations Act (NRLA).  It also says the company’s blogging and Internet posting policy is too broad and violates the law because it interferes with employee rights.  The policy language at issue prohibits employees “from making disparaging, discriminatory, or defamatory comments when discussing the company or the employee’s superiors, coworkers and/or competitors,” according to the article. 

A hearing on the case is scheduled for January.  Observers say the case could set some accepted standards for all employers. 

“If there’s a determination that there was a violation of the NRLA, it could open the door to employee tort claims for wrongful termination in violation of public policy,” Hudson says in the article.  That would expose employers to tort liability, including punitive damages. 

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