Recently, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) made its first social media-related ruling. The board adjudicated a case against Costco, and in this case the NLRB struck down Costco's social media policy as standing in violation of the workers' right to free speech (Little, 2012). The Board found that Costco's policy on social media usage was overly broad. The policy held that employees were prohibited from posting statements that "damage" the company and the policy was incorporated into the Costco Employment Agreement. The NLRB held that this policy was too broad. Specifically, some forms of speech by workers are considered to be protected speech. Protected speech includes work-related complaints, which are given this protection so that they can communicate their grievances both to other employees and to the company. This protection is related to the workers' legal right to organize.
The NLRB applies the same standards to protected labor speech as judges do to First Amendment cases. This interpretation is explained in the following passage: "Costco's policy had a reasonable tendency to inhibit employees' protected activity" (Godard, 2012). Essentially, if an employee cannot reasonably understand the difference...
That outcome appears to have been a key motivation for Costco. However, if there is a chance that an employee will feel uncomfortable making protected speech for fear of punishment under vague rules, those rules are in violation of the applicable code that protects the speech. The doctrine of "no infringement," meaning real, perceived or potential, is being applied here by the NLRB.
2. I agree with the NLRB on this decision. The wording in Costco's employee agreement was far too vague. The wording seemed as though the employee could be subject to punishment for any statement on social media that a Costco manager could construe as negative or damaging to the company. Such rules are not allowed to be vague and subjective, because subjective application of the rule could see employees being punished for protected speech. Even the legal definition of protected speech in this instance is somewhat vague. Thus, neither Costco nor the National Labor Relations Act can clearly differentiate between protected and unprotected speech in all instances. As a result, neither can employees. Given that there can be no infringement of any sort on protected labor speech, Costco's blanket statement in the employment agreement thus violates the NLRA.
It is important for workers…
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Social Media: Privacy and Free Speech Although social media has its conveniences, there are definitely some scenarios whereby one may find it difficult to engage their intended audience. This is more so the case in those instances where the message being passed on is confidential. While there are questions I would have no problem posting on an organization's social media platform, there are definitely some queries I would prefer to have
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Safeguarding the privacy of the respondents is vital. Setting a certain criteria to guarantee the security and privacy of the respondents will be useful like informing the respondents that their names will be kept confidential, their location and company will be mentioned only if they give their consent, participation is completely voluntary, and it cannot be imposed. In any way, no such information will be publicized that can help to
relevance of a well-developed social media policy cannot be overstated. This is more so the case given that in addition to ensuring that their public image and reputation is not tainted; organizations need to protect themselves against liabilities arising from the actions of their employees. A new employee could be overenthusiastic about their new position and deem it fit to post, blog, and tweet about the said position and