NLRB Issues Pair of Decisions Limiting Employer Discipline and Policies Regarding Social Media

January 2013

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently issued a pair of decisions helping to clarify the limits on employers’ ability to (1) discipline employees for their social media activities and (2) implement confidentiality and social media-related policies. The Board’s decisions, as well as a recent Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) decision, fell largely in line with the NLRB General Counsel’s three social media reports issued in 2011 and 2012.

Costco Wholesale Corporation and United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 371 (34-CA-012421). In this case, the NLRB considered a number of provisions of an employee handbook. The first rule prohibited employees from discussing “private matters of… other employees… includ[ing] topics such as, but not limited to, sick calls, leaves of absence, FMLA call-outs, ADA accommodations, workers’ compensation injuries, personal health information, etc.” Another rule barred sharing “payroll” information, and a third prohibited employees from electronically posting statements that “damage the company… or damage any person’s reputation.”

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