Much has been written about whether you can fire someone for what they put on Facebook. Your gut reaction may be that surely if someone talks bad about the company, you can fire them. The National Relations Labor Board says you may not be able to if the employee is talking about his working conditions.
The NLRB normally governs union/labor relationships, but the agency can also pursue claims if employers prevent employees from engaging in protected concerted activity. Ten years ago, that meant you could not prevent from two or more employees from meeting at the water cooler or wherever to discuss their working conditions — or even complaining about them. The same rules applies to Facebook. You can read a previous post that outlines the National Labor Relations Board’s position on social media policies and firing employees for their social media activity. For those that prefer audio, you can listen to last week’s radio interview with KRLD Radio’s Mitch Carr here.
The bottom line lessons are twofold. First, you should not prohibit your employees from discussing the company via social media. Instead, remind the employees they are responsible for their actions and give them some guidance. Second, if you think the employee has crossed the line, don’t take a knee-jerk reaction. If the post involves complaints about the employee’s working conditions, get good advice.
AN UNRELATED CALL FOR QUESTIONS
I have not been as attentive to the blog as usual because I have been writing a chapter for an upcoming eBook named Straight from the top: What Your Marketing Team Needs to Know Regarding the First Amendment. My chapter covers the recently revised Online Endorsement Guidelines from the Federal Trade Commission which I have covered here, here and here.
My goal is to address real world examples with plain-spoken advice. For example, I cover how the Online Endorsement Guidelines cover employees on Facebook, celebrity online endorsements, offering discounts for likes or retweets, video reviews, “Disclosure” links, the limitations of Twitter and affiliate marketing. What am I missing? I submitted the first draft today, but if I you send me a good question, I will try to add it.