Q: Our master association operates a country club and has a large staff. We are concerned about our employees using “social media” tools like Facebook and discussing work-related issues with co-workers on these websites. Is there anything our Board can do to protect the club? We are trying to recruit new members and we would like to prohibit our employees from talking about the club on their personal time.
A: Restricting the use of social media sites for your employees is not easy. Many companies have a “computer policy” which restricts the use of personal websites and email during the work day, but many of these policies may be illegal based on recent rulings by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Corporate policies on “social media” websites that completely prohibit the use of these sites for connecting with co-workers or discussing company issues are illegal. Many employers believe it is absolutely legal to prohibit negative or derogatory remarks about the company on the internet, but they do not realize that employees actually have the legal right to discuss wages, hours and employment conditions with co-workers, and this right extends to the use of “social media” sites like Facebook. Your company can develop a legal policy that provides guidance to your staff, but you should consult with a labor attorney or other specialist before enforcing such a policy.