Minnesota, USA -August 12, 2011 - Most companies now have policies when it comes to 'social media' and the use of it by its workers. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over one hundred complaints were filed by individuals who believed that they were terminated unlawfully. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) cautions companies to be more careful when it comes to firing individuals due to social media posts; companies may not realize that even though they have a written policy, the rights of workers may be covered under the Labor Law.Surprisingly some of the complaints suggested that companies terminated some employees after they complained that they were not paid on time or they were not paid enough. One also claimed that he or she made a short statement out of desperation that led to termination; sometimes individuals get carried away by grief which is understandable since there are bills to pay and there may not be the means to pay those bills. Yet, workers and the companies need to find a common ground when it comes to 'expression' on social media; workers need to tone it down a bit while companies need to be open to some potential criticism.
It is not uncommon to see workers complain about their superiors; undoubtedly some of the 'expressions' are true and they deface those individuals. According to the NLRB, the firing for using vulgar language when describing a superior may actually be covered under the Labor Law. Although companies routinely suggest that criticism of another employee is criticizing the actual companies, NLRB considers it to be a 'discussion of workplace conditions.'
What does this mean for companies Even though they may require employees to sign a contract for social networking, it may not hold up when it comes to the federal law. In most cases, companies are vague in their policies so workers are sometimes even afraid to say anything about their workplace. After all, people are being terminated for voicing the fact that they did not get their pay on time so they cannot pay their bills on time; who would not be upset and say a little something on Facebook
In a time when there are limited jobs, companies are becoming extremely tight-fisted when it comes to their employees behaviors and actions -both on the job and in personal lives. Workers' rights are slowly diminishing as companies routinely terminate or lay off employees and only to turn around and hire someone else for less pay or benefits. For some of these cases, there are violations of the Labor Law; some of these workers do not realize that there was a violation because it is hard to put up a fight against a company.
Even if unlawfully terminated employees win and are rehired, many are afraid of negative treatment by fellow coworkers and superiors; consequences of ones' actions on social media is becoming extreme whether it is 'official' retaliation or not. Most companies even have policies when it comes to this; unfortunately not all companies are able to reinforce a 'no retaliation' policy. Superiors and coworkers are human and do not always consciously realize how they are treating others.