Protected Concerted Activity and Your Social Media Policies

Your employees can criticize your company publicly on social media, as long as they do it together

Posted by Dawn Lomer in on February 12th, 2013

As the effectiveness of the NLRB and its ability to rule on cases and policies remains under a cloud following the controversy over the US President’s recess appointments, the stability of some of its recent rulings may be called into question. Many of these were based on the concept of protected concerted activity: the rights of employees to discuss wages, working conditions and terms of their employment.

The National Labor Relations Act specifically gives employees the right to self-organize, form, join, or assist labor organizations, bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection. The act also give employees the right to refrain from these such activities.

Social Media Rants

One of the most talked-about areas related to protected concerted activity is the right that employees have to talk amongst themselves publicly on social media sites, as long as they are talking about conditions of their employment. This is caused some concern for employers, some of whom fell helpless to protect their companies against the gossip of disgruntled employees. All it take to transform an employee’s destructive rant about a company on a public form from unlawful to lawful is the participation of anther employee, it seems.

At the same time, employees who merely gripe about their employer online without the input of other employees are subject to discipline, up to and including termination.

What Employees Can Do

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With this in mind, employers need to be careful when disciplining employees for social media activity that seems destructive and/or disloya. This may include:

The smart thing for an employer to do is to learn about the National Labor Relations Act. Not only will this help ensure employers are complying with the act, but it will also ensure they are not giving up opportunities to exercise their own rights when an employee’s activities aren’t considered to be protected and concerted.


Dawn Lomer
Dawn Lomer

Managing Editor

Dawn Lomer is the managing editor at i-Sight Software and a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE). She writes about topics related to workplace investigations, ethics and compliance, data security and e-discovery, and hosts i-Sight webinars.