Benefits and Compensation

Social Media–Badmouthing, NLRB, Privacy

The eight tentacles come from a recent BLR/HRHero-sponsored webinar featuring Patricia Trainor, JD, and Stephen Bruce, PhD.

Attorney Trainor is BLR’s Senior Managing Editor, HR; Bruce is editor of the HR Daily Advisor.

 [Go here for tentacles 1 to 4.]

Tentacle #5—Inappropriate/ Negative Actions Toward the Employer

Release of “trade secrets” and other proprietary data is a major worry for many employers. Remember, you have to treat these data as secret yourself. Some courts have determined that information that is available to the public through Internet searches and other means isn’t protected. 

Also, you may want to revise preemployment agreements regarding trade secrets and proprietary information such as customer lists.
Put in your policy and have employees sign an agreement concerning company equipment, company accounts, and company information.

What about badmouthing the company or the boss? This is a very frustrating situation, because there are two legal issues that employers face when they try to restrict employees who rave and rant online:
First, there are state legal off-duty activity laws. Although these laws were generally passed to protect smokers, many of them are broadly worded and social media activity could be protected.
Along with this come NLRB issues, that is, that many discussions online are protected activity, particularly if they fall under the guise of talking about terms and conditions of employment.

Tentacle #6—NLRB Issues

After lots of guidance, the NLRB issued its first decision on a social media policy and, not surprisingly, found the policy infringed on Section 7 rights.  In the case, the company’s policy prohibited statements on social media that “damage the Company, defame an individual or damage any person’s reputation.” The NLRB found that that interfered with Section 7 rights.  At a minimum, that means your social media policies should state that nothing in the policies is intended to restrict employees’ rights under the NLRA.

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Tentacle #7—Privacy Issues

There is little case law addressing the monitoring by employers of employees’ social networking posts. However, the few cases in this area suggest that courts will be reluctant to uphold an invasion of privacy claim (whether based on the federal Constitution or state common law) when an employee voluntarily posts information on a public site.

Again, there is the issue of off-duty activity laws, and also not requiring passwords and not trying to falsely enter a website.

Tentacle #8—Ownership Issues

Finally, there’s a very interesting issue now around who owns social media data. For example, say an employee has all your customer contacts on his or her LinkedIn page. When the employee leaves your employ, can he or she take that contact information? Can you prevent it?

The social media arena is constantly changing, the law is slow to catch up, and there are many grey areas. Having a policy, signing agreements, and training users will help to minimize your exposure.

While you’re working on the cutting edge of HR technology and communication, don’t put basic upkeep chores on the back burner. For example, are your job descriptions up to date? Essential skills delineated? Mental, physical, and environmental requirements all there? Ready to back you up in court?

If not—or if you’ve never even written them—you’re not alone. Thousands of companies fall short in this area.

It’s easy to understand why. Job descriptions are not simple to do—what with updating and management and legal review, especially given the ADA requirement of a split-off of essential functions from other functions in the description. Wouldn’t it be great if your job descriptions were available and already written?

Actually, with BLR’s new program, they are.

BLR® has now released its collection of 700 job descriptions, formerly only available in the classic, but shelf-filling, Job Descriptions Encyclopedia, in a program called SmartJobs on CD. That’s cause for celebration—your job descriptions are a click away from being done.

And we’re talking about virtually all of them, covering every common position in any organization, from receptionist right up to president. They are all there in BLR’s SmartJobs.

More than 700 prewritten, legally reviewed job descriptions are ready to go at the click of your mouse. Try BLR’s remarkable SmartJobs program at no cost, and also receive the FREE report, 5 Mistakes Everyone Makes with Job Descriptions and How to Avoid Them, today! Click here to learn more.

These are descriptions you can depend on. Our collection has been constantly refined and updated over time, with descriptions revised or added each time the law, technology, or the way business is done changes.

Revised for the ADA, Pay Grades Added

BLR editors have taken apart every one of the 700 descriptions and reassembled them to be ADA-compliant. And now they’ve added pay grades for each job, based on BLR’s annual surveys of exempt and nonexempt compensation, as well as other data.

According to our customers, this is an enormous timesaver, enabling them to make compensation decisions even as they define the position.

SmartJobs also includes an extensive tutorial on setting up a complete job descriptions program, as well as how to encourage participation from all parts of the organization. That includes top management, employees, and any union or other collective-bargaining entity.

Twice-Yearly Updates, At No Additional Cost

Very important these days are the updates included in the program as a standard feature—essential at a time of constantly changing laws and, yes, emerging technologies. And the cost of the program is extremely reasonable, averaging less than 66 cents per job description … already written, legally reviewed, and ready to adapt or use as is.

You can evaluate BLR’s SmartJobs at no cost in your office for up to 30 days. Just click here, and we’ll be delighted to send it to you.