As Facebook and Twitter become as central to workplace conversation as the company cafeteria, federal regulators are ordering employers to scale back policies that limit what workers can say online.
Employers often seek to discourage comments that paint them in a negative light. Don’t discuss company matters publicly, a typical social media policy will say, and don’t disparage managers, co-workers or the company itself. Violations can be a firing offense.
But in a series of recent rulings and advisories, labor regulators have declared many such blanket restrictions illegal. The National Labor Relations Board says workers have a right to discuss work conditions freely and without fear of retribution, whether the discussion takes place at the office or on Facebook.
In addition to ordering the reinstatement of various workers fired for their posts on social networks, the agency has pushed companies nationwide, including giants like General Motors, Target and Costco, to rewrite their social media rules.
This is a big deal, and it is an important message is to teachers, state employees, and workers at private companies everywhere in North Carolina: The balance of power is shifting into your hands. If you are working in a toxic, unfair, or discriminatory environment, meet your coworkers and friends online and raise holy hell. Set up Facebook pages to call your employer out. Go to social media sites like Vault and others to tell the world what it's like to work in your organization. Document dangerous conditions you're working under and post them for all to see.
And when your employer tries to get back at you with trumped up, bullshit charges of under-performance, sue the hell out of them. Keep meticulous records ... and remember: The
I'm not a lawyer, though I wish I were, and nothing here should be construed as legal advice. But given the sad state of our rampant corporatocracy, it's long past time to rethink and reset the nature of relationships between companies and workers.