Tips for Drafting an NLRA Compliant Social Media Policy

Social media will forever change the way our society connects and communicates. As social media has become pervasive within our society, its use has become a norm within and outside the workplace. Any small business owner looking to institute a social media policy in their workplace must be aware of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) in order to ensure that such a policy does not infringe on federal law.

NLRA Compliant Social MediaWhat is the NLRA?

The NLRA is a federal labor law that applies to all employers of both union and non-unionized businesses and workplaces. The NLRA provides your employees with the right to freely discuss their working conditions and to also engage in “concerted activities” that relate to the employees’ right of collective bargaining for better working conditions and terms. The NLRA also provides employees with the right to engage in collective actions, such as strikes. The NLRA does not apply to independent contractors, agricultural employees, supervisors, local, state or federal employees, close relatives of individual employers, nor domestic employees.

 Section 7 and 8(a)(1) of the NLRA

Section 7 of the NLRA provides that “[e]mployees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining”. This section has been interpreted as providing employees with the right to freely discuss and complain about working conditions. The National Labor Relations Board has extended the meaning of section 7 to apply to social media websites. As a result, a businesses’ ban on putting disrespectful comments about an employer on a social media website could easily be construed as violating an employee’s right to engage in Section 7-protected activity.

Section 8(a)(1) considers it to be an unfair labor practice for any employer to “ interfere with restrain or coerce employees in the exercise of the rights” under section 7 of the NLRA. In Lafayette Park Hotel, 326 N.L.R.B. 824, 825 (1998) Section 8(a)(1) was held to be violated if a non-union employer imposes a work rule or restriction that “would reasonably tend to chill employees in their exercise of their Section 7 rights.”

The attorneys here at the Gierach Law Firm have a few tips for small business owners looking to draft a NLRA compliant social media policy. First, make sure to avoid overly broad language that could be interpreted as interfering with an employee’s right to engage in Section 7 activity. Second, when listing prohibited social media conduct, provide specific examples of the behavior that is restricted. Third, make sure to include a “savings clause” that explicitly states that the social media policy is not intended to prohibit an employee from engaging in any “protected concerted activity” under the NLRA.

Workplace social media policies should be careful to avoid any violation of the NLRA. Contact the business law attorneys here at the Gierach Law Firm here in Naperville, Illinois for assistance with drafting a sound social media policy for your workplace.