The NLRB Issues New Guidelines on Workplace Rights and the New Social Media


In 16th century Europe, the printing press was the new social media of its day. Emboldened by its power, it became a tool of both social reformers and social conservatives alike. It also annoyed authorities to no end. People were sent to dank dungeons, tortured , or even executed for distributing printed tracts that met with official disapproval.

Today Facebook updates and tweets can get you in the same kind of trouble if you live in a dictatorship. Here in the USA, even with your democratic rights enshrined in the Constitution, your social media activity can get you into trouble. You won’t land behind bars, but you could land on the unemployment line, pink slip in hand. Yes, people have been fired from their jobs for their Facebook statuses, tweets, blog posts and forum postings.

However, under US labor law employees are afforded certain rights if they are organizing together to improve wages and working conditions. So in August, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a report giving its first indication of how US labor law applies to social media. The NLRB is the governmental body charged with conducting union elections and investigating unfair labor practices.

You may read the full report here. The American Express OPEN Forum has an excellent summary along with useful links here.