Shootout between NLRB social media sheriff and GM?

The social media sheriff at the National Labor Relations, acting general counsel Lafe Solomon, has saddled into town and is making his rounds, said Troy employment attorney C. John Holmquist.

Holmquist was referring to Solomon’s third report on social media in the work place, released last week. The report details seven corporate social media policies. Six of them, according to the NLRB, are unlawful. One (Wal-Mart’s policy) was deemed lawful.

“That’s really unusual,” Holmquist said. “Because employers asked for guidance, he blesses one example as a template of what an employer can use. I can’t recall general counsel ever taking that approach before.”

One of the unlawful policies was General Motors’ policy. The NLRB called GM’s somewhat stringent policy overbroad and restrictive of employee communications, to the point where it may infringe on activity protected by the National Labor Relations Act. GM has since said that it is not changing its policy, which it argues complies with all applicable laws.

Holmquist has lately been scratching his head over the high level of activity of the NLRB.

“It seems that the NLRB has sort of become a Hail Mary. If a worker can’t do anything else, go to the NLRB and say that whatever it is the worker was doing was a protected activity,” Holmquist said. He said he thinks the next big issue that the NLRB will opine on (and, he said, will probably favor the worker over the employer) will be employer technology and computer use.

As for the social media policies, when considering who is correct — Solomon or GM? Holmquist said that’s going to have to be settled in court.

“That’s going to be tied up in litigation for at least a couple of years,” he said. “And who wants to do that?”

The easier route for many employers will be to simply use the policy that gets the NLRB’s blessing as a template .

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