Seyfarth Shaw Intellectual Property partner Robert Milligan and Los Angeles office clerk Jeffrey Oh wrote an article published in Law360 on February 24. The article discussed social media's impact on employers--both challenges and benefits--and the legal limitations in setting parameters for appropriate use.
The authors point out that "companies must align their policies with the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)," in order to ensure that they do not apply overly broad policies which may open them up to litigation, since employees are protected and may discuss issues ranging from terms and conditions to complaints of unfair treatment, and they may author public posts about a company if it can be considered as a step toward self-organization.
For employers worried about trade secret protection, the authors point out that the NLRB has made clear what is permissible social media policy, ruling that "employees would reasonably interpret to the policy to apply only to communications that might implicate security regulations," and they do not have a protected right to disclose embargoed information such as trade secrets or confidential information."
Robert and Jeff suggest that employers maintain an up-to-date social media policy and educate employees on what is and is not permissible social media use regarding company information. They also say that taking out any ambiguities or outdated information can help with future protection.