Many workplace policies and employee handbooks contain restrictions on employees speaking to the media.  Through these policies, employers often seek to limit what organizational information is disclosed to third parties, and to exercise at least some control over statements that may be attributed to the company.  Such restrictions, though, may be found to violate employees’ rights under the National Labor Relations Act due to overbreadth when not drafted carefully.
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How would you handle the following situation?  You have recently learned that one of your employees “posted” on Facebook complaining about the company, specifically commenting on work conditions and wages.  Several other employees have made comments on this employee’s Facebook page and a discussion has ensued.  These comments and complaints are damaging to the company’s reputation and portray the company in a negative light. 

Your natural inclination may be to instruct the employee to take these comments down and prohibit him from continuing to use Facebook to discuss work issues.  Yet, unions may be looking for you to do exactly that so they can try to file an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”).  Employers have the right to protect their reputations and to prevent the possible disclosure of confidential information.  But unions may try to construe the above situation and the employer’s reaction to it as interference with an employee’s right to engage in concerted activity, a violation of Section 8 of the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”).  Notably, such an argument by unions could apply to both unionized and non-unionized employers. 


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