Technology Management

[ Materials ]

Career & Technical Education: Business & Information Technology Summer Conference
Wednesday and Thursday June 11-12, 2014 in Murray, Utah

Controlling Internet Use in the Workplace

First, a few words to know:

Defamation happens when someone makes an intentional false statement that harms another person. When the statement is made orally, it’s called slander; a written statement is called libel (Nolo, 2014)



"Employers can generally treat employee social media activity that affects their workplace just like any other type of misconduct. Employers often believe they cannot discipline or otherwise monitor employee off-duty conduct. However, when off-duty conduct comes into your business, it becomes your business. For example, any type of harassment, bullying or other improper conduct affecting productivity and working conditions should be dealt with appropriately. Employers are not required to allow such conduct during work time, on work systems, or with work equipment. Nor should employers ignore this activity if it is occurring online and affecting the workplace." (Smith, 2014)

Canadian Employers Have Freer Hand to Curb Employee Off-Hours Social Media Conduct (Bloomberg BNA 6/9/2014)

"harassment, bullying, discrimination, or retaliation that would not be permissible in the workplace is not permissible between co-workers online, even if it is done after hours, from home and on home computers (Smith, 2014).


Sample 1:

The N.L.R.B. had [little] sympathy for a police reporter at The Arizona Daily Star.

Frustrated by a lack of news, the reporter posted several Twitter comments. One said, “What?!?!?! No overnight homicide. ... You’re slacking, Tucson.” Another began, “You stay homicidal, Tucson.”

The newspaper fired the reporter, and board officials found the dismissal legal, saying the posts were offensive, not concerted activity and not about working conditions. (Greenhouse, 2013)

Sample 2:

The newspaper fired the reporter, and board officials found the dismissal legal, saying the posts were offensive, not concerted activity and not about working conditions.

The agency also affirmed the firing of a bartender in Illinois. Unhappy about not receiving a raise for five years, the bartender posted on Facebook, calling his customers “rednecks” and saying he hoped they choked on glass as they drove home drunk.

Labor board officials found that his comments were personal venting, not the “concerted activity” aimed at improving wages and working conditions that is protected by federal law (Greenhouse, 2013)

Employees, If You Don't Want Us to Get Your Social Media Info in Discovery, Don't Post! (1/2013)

Social networking nightmares: Cyberspeak no evil (National Education Association, 2010)



At Hispanics United of Buffalo, a nonprofit social services provider in upstate New York, a caseworker threatened to complain to the boss that others were not working hard enough. Another worker, Mariana Cole-Rivera, posted a Facebook message asking, “My fellow co-workers, how do you feel?”

Several of her colleagues posted angry, sometimes expletive-laden, responses. “Try doing my job. I have five programs,” wrote one. “What the hell, we don’t have a life as is,” wrote another.

Hispanics United fired Ms. Cole-Rivera and four other caseworkers who responded to her, saying they had violated the company’s harassment policies by going after the caseworker who complained.

In a 3-to-1 decision last month, the labor board concluded that the caseworkers had been unlawfully terminated. It found that the posts in 2010 were the type of “concerted activity” for “mutual aid” that is expressly protected by the National Labor Relations Act. (Greenhouse, 2013)

Cannot prohibit employees from exercising their right to communicate with one another with the aim of improving wages, benefits or working conditions. Workers can lawfully discuss workplace conditions, even salaries, on public spaces like Facebook and LinkedIn. (Toth, 2014)

Judge Forces Employer To Rehire Workers Who Vented On Facebook (9/2011)

Even if It Enrages Your Boss, Social Net Speech Is Protected (NYT 1/21/2013)


Set up clear rules, but with caution. Understand what employees have a right to do and what they do not have a right to do.

When You Can and Can't Fire Employees For Social Media Misbehavior (8/25/2011)

NLRB Slams Costco On Social Media Use Policy: What It Means For Your Business (Forbes 9/28/2012)

"In recent cases, the Board has found many employers wrongfully terminated employees for making negative comments about the employer on social media websites. In most cases the Board has determined the employees’ online comments were “concerted activities” protected by the National Labor Relations Act (the “Act”). The Act was created by Congress in 1935. See 29 U.S.C. §§ 151-169. Section 7 provides employees shall have the right to form unions, collectively bargain and to engage in concerted activities for mutual aid or protection. 29 U.S.C. § 157. Section 8 provides it is an unfair labor practice to interfere with, restrain or coerce employees from exercising their Section 7 rights. See 29 U.S.C § 158" (Smith, 2014).

"comments made on social media by an employee will be protected concerted activities when the comments have a direct implication on the employee’s terms and conditions of employment and the employee acts “with or on the authority of other employees, and not solely by and on behalf of the employee himself.” Meyers cases. Foot notes Meyers Indus., (Meyers I), 268 NLRB 493, (1984), rev’d, sub nom.  Prill v. NLRB, 755 F.2d 941 (D.C. Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 474 U.S. 948 (1985), on remand Meyers Industries (Meyers II), 281 NLRB 882 (1986), aff’d, sub nom.  Prill v. NLRB, 835 F.2d 1481 (D.C. Cir. 1987), cert. denied, 487 U.S. 1205 (1988) (Smith, 2014)

"First, a rule is clearly unlawful if it explicitly restricts Section 7 protected activities. If the rule does not explicitly restrict protected activities, it will only violate Section 8(a)(1) upon a showing that: (1) employees would reasonably construe the language to prohibit Section 7 activity; (2) the rule was promulgated in response to union activity; or (3) the rule has been applied to restrict the exercise of Section 7 rights (Smith, 2014)

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