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What Facebook ruling means for social media at your company

Angela West | Sept. 9, 2011
A judge ordered that workers fired over Facebook comments get their jobs back.


These most recent rulings from the NLRB clearly define messages on a private Facebook wall as "protected concerted activities". The NLRB has put Facebook in the "hands off" category as far as acceptable use policies are concerned. That's not to say that anything that an employee says on a more public service such as Twitter is still protected, so any acceptable use policies mentioning that or any other social networking services can still remain in place.

Can I Still Check Out Employees or New Hires on Facebook?

The NLRB decision relates only to comments on a Facebook wall and does not limit you from checking out a new hire or employee on a public social media profile. You may still also access a private Facebook profile as long as you have your employee's permission, but you just can't fire them for any comments there that are made during off hours.

What If Comments Are Made During Work Hours?

If that is the case, termination may be a bit harsh, but disciplinary actions could be warranted, depending on the situation.

Social media can definitely expose businesses to risk, so its usage has to be monitored. A social media profile can also tell you a lot about a person, so asking employers to ignore them completely would be wrong. You need to know what kind of person you are hiring in order to maintain company morale and security.


The key lesson after this latest case is that the more personally you take comments on a social media profile, the more likely you are to get yourself and your company in trouble. You should handle ny perceived slight impersonally and run it through human resources and possibly your legal department before acting on it, or you could find your company at the mercy of a similar NLRB ruling.

 

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