Even if it enrages your boss, social net speech is protected

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 22 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

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.

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Our take: Many workplace conflicts have centered around what is allowed to be posted and what is posted on various social media sites. Steven Greenhouse at The New York Times writes about recent rulings that declare many social media restrictions as illegal.

"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.

"Rafael Gomez, a lawyer for Hispanics United of Buffalo, said the group would appeal an N.L.R.B. decision in favor of employees.

"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.

"'Many view social media as the new water cooler, said Mark G. Pearce, the board's chairman, noting that federal law has long protected the right of employees to discuss work-related matters. All we're doing is applying traditional rules to a new technology.'"

Read more about protecting social net speech on New York Times.

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