Steven Greenhouse, longtime labor reporter for the New York Times, has a frontpage story today about rulings of the National Labor Relations Board striking down overly broad employer restrictions of what workers say using social media. While this is good news for all bloggers and Facebook junkies it is not carte blanche to say anything about the workplace:
The labor board’s rulings, which apply to virtually all private sector employers, generally tell companies that it is illegal to adopt broad social media policies — like bans on “disrespectful” comments or posts that criticize the employer — if those policies discourage workers from exercising their right to communicate with one another with the aim of improving wages, benefits or working conditions.
But the agency has also found that it is permissible for employers to act against a lone worker ranting on the Internet.The distinction here is between "personal venting" and "concerted activity" to improve wages, benefits or working conditions. To my mind this still gives the employer a lot of leeway to go after someone who is posting critical comments online about his or her job. So be careful.