April 15, 2011
The National Labor Relations Board continues to explore the social media frontier as it is now considering a charge that Thompson Reuters disciplined a reporter who criticized the company on Twitter. Last fall, the agency made news with a case involving an employee who was terminated after slandering his employer on Facebook. The case was ultimately settled after the company agreed to revise its policies. In the new case, a manager invited employees to submit suggestions via Twitter about how to make Reuters the best place to work. One reporter tweeted: “One way to make this the best place to work is to deal honestly with [Newspaper] Guild members.” In this instance, no termination was involved. The bureau chief simply called to remind the employee that Reuters had a policy against saying things that would damage the reputation of the company. The Newspaper Guild then filed a charge with the NLRB claiming the employee felt “kind of threatened.” The NLRB General Counsel is reviewing whether to issue a complaint against the company, but there is a strong possibility the matter will be settled. This will once again leave employers with the impression that their social networking policies may be vulnerable under federal labor law without knowing exactly what that law requires.