Does your social media policy violate labor laws?

April 23, 2012

For the last couple of years I've been speaking to groups of remodelers about crafting a social media strategy for their firms and one of the things I always say to do is to create a social media policy for your employees.

One thing I didn't know about until this last weekend was that you need to be careful your social media policy doesn't violate labor laws. (thanks to attorney Jeremy Lewin, who shared this info at the NARI House of Delegates meeting Saturday.)

The National Labor Relations Board recently sided with an employee that was dismissed for violating her company's social media policy. The problem? She had been complaining about the company with fellow employees on Facebook and, among other things, called her boss a "scumbag."

The key here is that discussions of working conditions, pay, etc., among employees are considered protected activites by the NLRB, whether it's in the lunchroom, on the jobsite or posted online for the Web to see.

The key to the protection is that it has to be a discussion between two or more employees -- an employee complaining to friends, family or the world in general isn't protected.

It's still important to have a policy in place that protects your employees, your company and your clients, but make sure it won't come back to bite you by checking with your legal adviser.

Jonathan Sweet is the editor in chief of Professional Remodeler, an award-winning trade publication for remodelers and home improvement contractors. He started his career covering homes and small businesses at a daily newspaper and has spent more than a decade writing for several construction trade publications including Qualified Remodeler, Construction Pro and Concrete Contractor+Jonathan Sweet