Legal Blog

Health Care Law & Employee Contracts: Is Social Media Covered?

Health Care LawWith the not-so-recent emergence of social media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+, employers have taken it upon themselves to essentially censor their employees and stop them from badmouthing the company online. To accomplish this, many employers have designated a section of their Employee Contracts specifically for social media interactions, prohibiting the use of the Internet to make disparaging remarks about the company or its other employees. The penalty for violating these rules is clearly written in the contract: termination. So when you catch an employee badmouthing the company on Facebook, you can legally fire that employee, right? Wrong. According to recent interpretations of the federal employment laws by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), such a termination would most likely be deemed illegal. We discuss this incident in depth in our blog, “Labor and Employment Law & Social Media: Are Employee Comments Protected?” The mission of the NLRB is simple: Protect the rights of private sector employees to join together to improve their wages and working conditions, with or without a union.  The Board recently issued a report explaining that social media interactions are protected if they amount to “concerted activity,” even if the interactions violate employer policies. It is important to note that every case is different and that not all social media postings constitute “concerted activity.” For example, criticism using social media is not protected if it is unrelated to the conditions of employment or does not seek to involve other employees.