Facebook and the Law: The NLRB Got It Right

Last Updated Feb 14, 2011 2:57 PM EST

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a press release about the much talked about Facebook Case. The press release states:
Under the terms of the settlement approved today by Hartford Regional Director Jonathan Kreisberg, the company agreed to revise its overly-broad rules to ensure that they do not improperly restrict employees from discussing their wages, hours and working conditions with co-workers and others while not at work, and that they would not discipline or discharge employees for engaging in such discussions. (Emphasis is mine.)
You know what this is? Nothing new and nothing exciting. This is right in line with previous decisions regarding the rights of employee to talk about their salaries, hours and working conditions. It makes perfect sense to consider Facebook and other social media as talking. Because that is precisely what it is.

Now, this does not mean that the internet becomes a free-for-all. If you could be fired for talking about it before, you can still be fired now for posting about it. (And remember this is a union case, and doesn't necessarily apply to the majority of American workers.)

This will not be the last we hear of Facebook and the law. Other Facebook related cases are pending. You would be smart to be cautious about what you say and post on the internet, because unless you are saying something that is explicitly protected, your boss can still fire you.

UPDATE: I got an e-mail from Nancy Cleeland, NLRB's Director of Public Affairs. She gave me permission to post her e-mail for further clarification:
Thanks for your post on the Facebook settlement, which someone just forwarded to me. I just wanted to point out that even though the employee was represented by a union, our concerns related to the company's social media policies and her postings were not union-related and would apply to any private-sector workplace that is under the NLRB's jurisdiction.
So, this is farther reaching than I originally said. I'll be keeping my eye on any Facebook (and other social media) cases, and now I have a contact at the NLRB.

For Further Reading:
Photo by luc legay, Flickr cc 2.0

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