Report requires US employers to update online policies

US-based employers will need to review and revise social media, blogging and privacy policies after the publication of a NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) General Counsel Report.

The Report declares that the various provisions found in current social media and blogging policies provided to employees who use web 2.0 and social networking are unlawful because they limit employees' ability to organise or engage in "concerted activity".  It limits the ability of employers to restrict their employees from utilizing and posting information on their and others’ Facebook walls, Twitter accounts, LinkedIn profiles and other blogs and social media sites, even when such use occurs during the workday or with company computers.

This opinion is a huge blow to many businesses and non profit organisations which have prudently adopted social media and blogging policies. The Report gives concrete examples of what the NLRB will view as unlawful provisions in company social media, blogging and privacy policies. The examples are based upon actual cases and summarize the findings and holdings as applied under the National Labor Relations Act.

Barry Bendes from US law firm Edwards Wildman commented:

"The Report highlights the interplay between the needs of the business to control matters that affect its good name, trade secrets, products and services, and its obligation to comply with consumer protection and truth in advertising laws, on the one side, and the various laws, rules and regulations that protect speech, employee rights on the other side"