Social Media Policies: Are They Legal?
This paper focuses on the social media policies that affect the employees to the point where their employment gets terminated. In order to tackle the issue, the paper focuses on an article relating to the case Design Technology Group, LLC et al., Case 20-CA-35511 (Apr. 27, 2012), where NLRB directed the reinstatement of three employees who got fired due to their activities on Facebook (Devendra, 2012). The case involved three individuals who worked in a retail outlet known as Bettie Page. They had presented formal complaints about working late hours while they lived in an unsafe neighborhood. The employer did not make a permanent resolution.
As a result of their frustration, they discussed and commented about their frustrations on Facebook. Once the employer discovered what they had done, they got fired. After investigations, NLRB stated that the firing of the three employees was wrongful. The NLRB resolved that the actions of the employees were an extension of their complaint about working late in insecure vicinity. Although the employer tried to prove the legitimacy of the firing, the jury asked for proof that if the employees had not posted the comments on Facebook, they would still have gotten fired. The jury directed the reinstatement of the employees as well as back pay.
Reasons for Agreement or Disagreement with the Decision
For one to take a stand for, or against the jury’s decision, it is necessary to understand the meaning of the term “concerted activity.” It entails the right of the employees to unite so as to improve their working conditions or fix a problem related to their work. It applies to union, as well as, non-union members (Melick & Wall, 2014). From the understanding of concerted activity rule, I will agree with the ruling of the jury.
I agree with the ruling on the basis of the concerted activity rule, as the employees were discussing the issue in an attempt to improve their working conditions.
Since they are nonunion employees, they can only present their grievances to their employer directly, and if they do not get their problem fixed, they have to find an alternative means of airing their problems. Although the approach is not a legal avenue of fixing the problem, it allowable as it is a way of expressing freedom of expression. In addition, the employees did not insult their employer or tarnish the name of the company. It is human nature to share problems and find solutions. Whenever a person does not find a solution to their problem, they seek the attention and advice of their friends. With the social media becoming global, most of the people use it for communication. Although the script presented before the jury could have been pieced together skillfully for the case, it is the right of every individual to express their views. The employer had no right to fire them for expressing their feelings.
Application to Current or Past Workplace
As a result of the case, the working conditions and employee relations would improve. It would result from the attention attracted by the case. After such a case, the company would like to portray a good picture for the public, and the NLRB would be attentive about the activities in the company. Bad publicity is poor for business, and it may lead to potential employees failing to work for the company (Barbara, 2012). Therefore, the company would improve the employee relations so as to ensure that qualified people would like to be part of its staff members.
Communicating the Decision to Employees or Supervisors
In the contemporary business world, technological development requires the use of social media. New devices get released into the market, and they ease communication (Friedrichsen & Muhl-Benninghaus, 2013). Therefore, I would enforce the social media policy. It would address various issues including a request for the employees not to post their complaints on social media. In order to avoid a scenario such as the one in the case, the company would take care of every complaint and ensure that even if the action taken does not satisfy the employees, they feel that the company is doing the best. It would avoid escalation of issues to the point where the employees feel the need to post on the social media.
The company would also establish an open-door policy where the employees can air their complaints, and they would get addressed. It would provide a fast and less tasking approach to conflict resolution within the workplace. The social media policy cannot work in isolation. It has to be supported by other organizational efforts. For instance, the employees must be treated as part of the organization. It will ensure that they relate to the needs of the organization, and they would not like to tarnish its name. Whenever they have a problem, they would rather have it solved internally without attracting negative publicity.
The policy would address both the employees and the supervisors. It would request them to use the social media for positive comments about the organization. It would request to refrain from making any comments on the social media, which would tarnish the image of the organization. Engaging on social media during working hours is a problem that leads to time wastage. The policy would prohibit the use of social media while working unless it is work-related, where the employee would require authorization from their superior. The policy would also illustrate the repercussions of poor online publicity on the business in relation to competitors, customers, business associates, and employees. It would strive to make them understand that when they tarnish the name of the business, they also suffer indirectly.