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With New NLRB Report's Release, Truventis Recommends Social Media Policy Review

(January 26, 2012)

BOSTON, MA -- (Marketwire) -- 01/26/12 -- A new report released by the National Labor Relations Board shows that many companies are writing overly broad social media policies, says John Theriault, founder and principal of Truventis Social Media Consultants http://truventis.com/.

The NLRB report covers 14 cases, half of which involve questions about employer social media policies. Five of those policies were found to be unlawfully broad, one was lawful, and one was found to be lawful after it was revised. Said Theriault, "This is consistent with what we see in working with clients. While the actual number of cases the NLRB reviewed is small, the problem is huge nationally."

In a white paper http://truventis.com/white-papers/ by Truventis, companies are advised to be specific in any restrictions they place on an employee's personal use of social media. There must be a substantial reason for the restriction, and it cannot prohibit what the NLRB sees as a "protected speech" or "concerted activity" among workers.

Said Theriault, "A good example is a case where a hospital in the Midwest attempted to state that you couldn't discuss work at all, including the management and board of directors. Obviously a hospital has to protect patient confidentiality, but their policy went beyond that, and as a result, it didn't hold up."


Companies should also link their social media policy to their accepted use for technology policy and their harassment policy.

"A policy is not the end-all, because the policy itself can be flawed by being overly broad," said Theriault. Truventis helps clients manage social media risk by training employees and managers on social media risks in addition to helping write and implement effective social media policies.

Managers in particular should be trained, notes Theriault. "The last thing any company wants is a manager that reacts emotionally towards a social media posts. Managers also need to know they can't proactively search employee social media pages, and that despite harsh or profane language, a post may be protected speech."

Truventis Social Media Management Consultants works in regulated and non-regulated industries to help clients optimize social media and manage risk. The company has offices in Waltham, MA and New Bedford, MA.

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John Theriault
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