From WBUR’s Cognoscenti Blog
While it seems like issues around social media in the workplace have exploded in recent years, they have actually been around since the dawn of email. Back in those days, employers questioned things like whether they could restrict personal use of work email accounts or limit what was said in emails about the company. Could employees be terminated for breaching a company’s email policy?
Fast forward to today and the questions are strikingly similar: Can employees be fired for tweeting or posting on Facebook about their company? What if those posts are critical?
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently shed some light on these social media questions but the answer is still largely: it depends. The determining factor is whether the employee is discussing workplace conditions, which is a protected activity, or ranting, which is not.
A couple of cases heard by the NLRB illustrate the distinctions.
Neal Hartman is a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management who focuses on organizational communication issues.