Labor Board Clarifies Rules for Workplace Social Media Policies

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The National Labor Relations Board continues to provide guidance on employers’ authority to regulate employee social media behavior.

On September 4, 2019, the Board’s Office of General Counsel issued an Advice Memorandum relating to CVS Health's social media policies.

Here are the most important takeaways:

1.    A company's image and reputation are important assets.  Employees can be required to get prior approval before using company logos, trade names, trademarks and URLs and websites may not be used without prior approval.
2.    Internal communications programs that the company uses to provide employees with information about the company including town hall meetings, employee forums, internal e-mails and memos can be kept private.
3.    Employer can require employees to use disclaimers when they give their own views and opinions.  
4.    Employers can be required to be respectful and civil.
5.    Photos of company interior sites, meetings, screen shots, etc. are off limits.
6.    Job references can be directed to official channels
7.    Complaints and gripes can be directed internally.

However, the National Labor Relations Act guarantees the right of employees to discuss working conditions and wages among themselves and with others. As a result, employers cannot require employees to use their real names when stating social media opinions involving the employer, as it may chill protected speech.  The board counsel also disapproved of a broad prohibition against disclosure of all personal information because it could prevent employees from contacting one another to discuss terms and conditions of employment.