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Liam O’Connell quoted in “Feds protecting online criticism of workplaces”

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Boston Business Journal
06.17.2011
Liam O’Connell, chair of the firm’s Labor, Employment and Benefits practice group, was quoted in “Feds protecting online criticism of workplaces” in the Boston Business Journal on June 17. Liam discussed the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) view on social media policies in the workplace in light of several recent cases involving employee discussions of working conditions on social media sites such as Facebook. The NLRB filed complaints against several companies who had allegedly terminated employees after they discussed workplace issues online. While no cases have yet gone to trial, several have settled. Liam said the NLRB seems to be “taking an aggressive position” on protecting employee’s rights to discuss work online.

According to the NLRB, online postings are considered protected conversations when discussing working conditions with each other. However, there are limits to what an employee can post online, for instance confidential company or client information. “When I tell (clients) they really can’t have a policy that prohibits employees from disparaging their bosses on the Internet, I’m met with puzzlement,” said Liam. “We’ve been telling folks, don’t overreact. It’s smart to have a social media policy, but make sure it’s legal and be careful how you enforce it.”

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