Page is loading...
Print Logo Logo

Choose Your Words Carefully When Drafting Social Media Policies

Employees engage in statutorily-protected activity, Section 7 of the National Labor Relation Act explains, when two or more of them act together to improve the terms and conditions of their employment. Employers are prohibited by the Act from restricting employees from exercising their Section 7 rights.

Employers can sometimes unwittingly violate Section 7. Say your company is drafting a social media policy and you include a line explaining that employees should not use social media to “disparage” their co-workers because you want to keep your employees from spreading hurtful rumors about one another.

Such a line may violate Section 7 of the Act because your employees could – in theory – interpret this as prohibiting them from discussing the terms and conditions of their employment. For example: two employees might be reluctant to make comments about the higher wages the company pays a third employee because such comments could be perceived as “disparaging” under the social media policy.

So the reasoning goes, and in Echostar Technologies v. Leigh, a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) administrative law judge recently came to that exact conclusion. Echostar’s prohibition in its social media policy against the use of “defamatory” language was lawful, the administrative law judge found, but it’s prohibition against the use of “disparaging” language was not.

As social media policies continue to evolve, the NLRB will continue to interpret what is – and is not – lawful under Section 7. As a result, employers must remember to choose their words carefully when they draft and revise their social media policies. They must also consider the various ways that the language of their policies could be interpreted by their employees.


Five Lessons from Fox News on Sexual Harassment

August 4, 2016 | EEOC, Workplace Culture and Conduct, Currents - Employment Law

Zoo Fires Employee For Social Media Comment About Serving “Rude A** White People”

June 18, 2015 | Social Media and Technology, Currents - Employment Law

NLRB Social Media Decisions Leave Questions for Employers

October 4, 2012 | Social Media and Technology, Currents - Employment Law

A Complete Overview of the NLRB’s Memorandum Regarding Social Media Policies in the Workplace

June 4, 2012 | Social Media and Technology, Currents - Employment Law


Do you want to receive more valuable insights directly in your inbox? Visit our subscription center and let us know what you're interested in learning more about.

View Subscription Center
National Labor Relations Act
Social Media Policies
Trending Connect
We use cookies on this site to enhance your user experience. By clicking any link on this page you are giving your consent for us to use cookies.