Top Ten Tips Disclaimer
The following is excerpted from NLRB memo OM 12-59 (May 30, 2012, online at http://mynlrb.nlrb.gov/link/document.aspx/09031d4580a375cd) and is a social media policy that was found by the NLRB to be lawful. It is reproduced here in its entirety. It is important to keep in mind that the NLRB's position on social media policies is still evolving and can be very tricky. Thus, it would be advisable to have your company's policy reviewed by an experienced labor law attorney before putting it into place.
At [Employer], we understand that social media can be a fun and rewarding way to share your life and opinions with family, friends and co-workers around the world. However, use of social media also presents certain risks and carries with it certain responsibilities. To assist you in making responsible decisions about your use of social media, we have established these guidelines for appropriate use of social media.
This policy applies to all associates who work for [Employer], or one of its subsidiary companies in the United States ([Employer]).
Managers and supervisors should use the supplemental Social Media Management Guidelines for additional guidance in administering the policy.
In the rapidly-expanding world of electronic communication, social media can mean many things. The term "social media" includes all means of communicating or posting information or content of any sort on the Internet, including to your own or someone else's web log or blog, journal, or diary, personal web site, social networking or affinity web site, web bulletin board, or a chat room, whether or not associated or affiliated with [Employer], as well as any other form of electronic communication.
The same principles and guidelines found in [Employer] policies and three basic beliefs apply to your activities online. Ultimately, you are solely responsible for what you post online. Before creating online content, consider some of the risks and rewards that are involved. Keep in mind that any of your conduct that adversely affects your job performance, the performance of fellow associates or otherwise adversely affects members, customers, suppliers, people who work on behalf of [Employer] or [Employer's] legitimate business interests may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.
Carefully read these guidelines, the [Employer] Statement of Ethics Policy, the [Employer] Information Policy, and the Discrimination & Harassment Prevention Policy, and ensure your postings are consistent with these policies. Inappropriate postings that may include discriminatory remarks, harassment, and threats of violence or similar inappropriate or unlawful conduct will not be tolerated and may subject you to disciplinary action up to and including termination.
Always be fair and courteous to fellow associates, customers, members, suppliers, or people who work on behalf of [Employer]. Also, keep in mind that you are more likely to resolved work-related complaints by speaking directly with your co-workers or by utilizing our Open Door Policy than by posting complaints to a social media outlet. Nevertheless, if you decide to post complaints or criticism, avoid using statements, photographs, video, or audio that reasonably could be viewed as malicious, obscene, threatening, or intimidating, that disparage customers, members, associates, or suppliers, or that might constitute harassment or bullying. Examples of such conduct might include offensive posts meant to intentionally harm someone's reputation or posts that could contribute to a hostile work environment on the basis of race, sex, disability, religion, or any other status protected by law or company policy.
Make sure you are always honest and accurate when posting information or news, and if you make a mistake, correct it quickly. Be open about any previous posts you have altered. Remember that the Internet archives almost everything; therefore, even deleted postings can be searched. Never post any information or rumors that you know to be false about [Employer], fellow associates, members, customers, suppliers, people working on behalf of [Employer], or competitors.
Refrain from using social media while on work time or on equipment we provide, unless it is work-related as authorized by your manager or consistent with the Company Equipment Policy. Do not use [Employer] e-mail addresses to register on social networks, blogs, or other online tools utilized for personal use.
[Employer] prohibits taking negative action against any associate for reporting a possible deviation from this policy or for cooperating in an investigation. Any associate who retaliates against another associate for reporting a possible deviation from this policy or for cooperating in an investigation will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
Associates should not speak to the media on [Employer's] behalf without contacting the Corporate Affairs Department. All media inquiries should be directed to them.
If you have questions or need further guidance, please contact your HR representative.
[Note: For more information, see "Social Media Issues" in the outline of employment law issues in Part II of this book.]
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