Case Study Week 2: Social Media Policies
Professor Pat Williams
May 20, 2014
Social Media Case Study
Social media has immensely evolved in how many companies and employers do business in recent years. It has helped many companies grow and expand by usage of social media by mass and instant communication and advertising through this technology. Like anything, there is a side effect. The social media "downfall” is the subject of employees bashing their employer's reputation in regards of employee’s communication via social media about their employers. With such controversy, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has had to step in to distinguish what is considered lawful of unlawful termination due to these actions by employees and their employers. The question to ask if such an issue should arise is to determine if it is concerted activity or not. This will help the NLRB determine if proper disciplinary procedures have been taken.
According to Belicove (2012) in article, NLRB Slams Costco On Social Media Usage Policy: What It Means For your Business, “A ruling by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in a case involving Costco earlier this month makes it clear that employers who want to avoid labor disputes would be well served to schedule a sit-down with their legal counsel and take a close look at their existing social media use policies." In this particular case the NLRB disagrees with Costco Wholesale Corp's employee policies in regards to the use of internet and social media usage and limitations by its employees. After complaints made by over 300 employees the NLRB has finally stepped in siding that Costco is in violation of the National Labor Relations Act. "The three-person NLRB panel deemed that the third largest retailer in the U.S. has employee policies in place that are “too broad” when it comes to the use of the Internet and social media. In fact, the panel ruled that policies outlined in the Costco Employee Agreement could effectively stifle its employees’ right to free speech under the Act," Belicove (2012). With this conclusion, the NRLB sided that Costco has violated Section 7, which states that, "it is an unfair labor practice for an employer to interfere with, restrain or coerce employees in the exercise of their rights guaranteed in Section 7. Under Section 7, employees have the right to self-organize, to join unions and to engage in “other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection," (Smith, 2012). After this ruling, the NRLB has also advise many other companies to review their current policies with social media usage to make sure they too are not in any violation in regards to social media and employee rights.
Personally, I agree with the NRLB's decision to side with Costco employees. After reading the article, I believe that Costco's policy was not directly targeting specific issues that may arise with social media...