Today, cross-posted on the LXBN site, I reflected on the biggest legal developments of the first half of the decade. I am reposting it here, but my sincere thanks to Lexblog for the support it has given me over the past 8 1/2 years and for the opportunity to provide some insight on its
Accessing Employee Social Media Accounts a No-No in Connecticut
We’ve got nearly a sold-out crowd for this Friday’s joint program on Data Privacy and Noteworthy Human Resources Issues produced by my firm, Shipman & Goodwin, and the Connecticut chapter of SHRM. I’ll be moderating the morning session and also putting on one of the programs.
In my hour-long talk, I’ll touch on some…
Employer Strikes Out; Facebook Likes Protected by NLRA, Says Second Circuit
On Friday, at my firm’s annual Labor & Employment Law seminar, I’ll be talking about the NLRB and Employee Handbooks with my colleague, Chris Engler. Among the topics we had planned to discuss was the ongoing Triple Play Sports Bar & Grille case that I had previously posted about here and here.
So of course yesterday, the Second Circuit released an long-awaited decision on that very case. And it’s a strikeout for the employer.
The case involves a mix of old and new concepts. Old: Employees have the right to improve the terms and conditions of their workplace — so called “Section 7” rights to protected concerted activity under the National Labor Relations Act, even if they are not “unionized”. New: It applies to Facebook and other types of social media.
And now, even to Facebook “likes”.
In the case, Jillian Sanzone and Vincent Spinella, two employees of Triple Play Sports Bar and Grille, located in Watertown, discovered that they owed more in State income taxes than they had originally expected. One of the employees discussed this issue with co-workers, and complaints were made to the employer.
The discussion continued on Facebook, and a former employee, Jamie LaFrance, posted the following “status update” to her Facebook page: “Maybe someone should do the owners of Triple Play a favor and buy it from them. They can’t even do the tax paperwork correctly!!! Now I OWE money . . . W[*]f!!!!”…
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Eight Years Later: Three Big Changes in Employment Law
And yet, eight years after I started this blog and over 1800 posts later (and a Hall of Fame entry), I’m pretty sure 2007 WASN’T yesterday.
So for this year’s anniversary post, I thought I would capture what I think are some of the biggest storylines from the last eight years. …
BREAKING: Legislature Passes Measure Limiting Employer Access to “Personal Online Accounts”
Well, no one who has been reading this blog should be surprised by the news tonight out of the General Assembly.
Indeed, I’ve written about proposed bills that limit employer access to employee’s personal online account for years now with a lot back in 2013. (See prior posts here, here, here…
The Perils of Social Media & Legal Considerations – Join Us!
On Thursday, February 26th, I’ll be speaking on a panel discussion for the Connecticut Bar Association, Young Lawyers Section discussing the legal considerations of social media.
The topic covers how the evolving world of new social media is constantly churning up interesting legal issues and problems. The panel will present insights on some of the…
NLRB and the “Purple” Crayon: NLRB Rewrites Its Decision on Employer E-mail
The NLRB, right now, is union-friendly. We know it. Employers know it. Politicians know it. The unions know it.
It’s stacked 3-2 with Democrat appointees so the NLRB taking its training wheels off and is doing what it has always done. It has shifted its decisions based on the politics.
Yesterday represented just the latest in a long line of decisions where the NLRB has suddenly “seen the light” from a prior decision and overrules itself without much real logic.
It’s not right or wrong. This is just how the NLRB works. When Republicans controlled the Board, it did the same thing.
The NLRB rewrites its decisions. And creates fantastical changes with the use of a crayon (or pen, or keyboard) — just like that childhood story about Harold.
So, yesterday’s decision in Purple Communications, Inc. regarding the usage of an employer’s e-mail system should come as no surprise (and won’t be if you attended my firm’s Labor & Employment seminar in October where we talked about this case coming down just like this.)
I asked one of our labor gurus and a frequent blog contributor Jarad Lucan, to first recap what is going on. He talked about this case at our October seminar:
Oh, 2007. Those were the days for employers.
The Sopranos made their exit. The last Harry Potter was released.
And the NLRB issues the Register Guard decision (see Dan’s post from way back then).
The decision said that employees had no rights under labor law to use an employer’s email system, let alone to use it for statutorily protected communications, such as union organization efforts, as long as the restrictions placed on the email system by the employer were nondiscriminatory.
According to the Board:
Nothing in the Act prohibits an employer from drawing lines on a non-Section 7 basis. That is, an employer may draw a line between charitable solicitations and noncharitable solicitations, between solicitations of a personal nature (e.g., a car sale) and solicitations for the commercial sale of a product (e.g., Avon products), between invitations for an organization and invitations of a personal nature, between solicitations and mere talk, and between business-related use and non-business-related use. In each of these examples, the fact that the union solicitation would fall on the prohibited side of the line does not establish that the rule discriminates along Section 7 lines. For example, a rule that permitted charitable solicitations but not noncharitable solicitations would permit solicitations for the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, but it would prohibit solicitation for Avon and the union.
Yesterday, a divided Board overruled Register Guard declaring that it was incorrectly decided.
In its Purple Communications Inc. case, the Board held that “employee use of email for statutorily protected communications on nonworking time must presumptively be permitted by employers who have chosen to give employees access to their email system.”
Put differently, if an employer has allowed its employees to use its email system for non-work related reasons (i.e., incidental personal use), then an employer must also allow those employees to use its email system for communications protected under the Act, such as communications about union organization efforts or the scheduling of solidarity marches to protest the employer’s conduct.
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Your Workplace Is Going Viral #AlexfromTarget
For employers, the power of the Internet is pretty scary at times.
The latest meme to hit the Internet won’t change that view.
Sometime yesterday (Sunday) afternoon, someone tweeted a picture of a worker from a Target store.
His name is “Alex”. We know this because of his name tag. And apparently he’s cute and…
Connecticut Bar Has Trouble with the NLRB’s Curveball on Social Media
As our big Labor Day weekend kicks off, it seems appropriate to bring back a “labor” topic, particularly when mixed with one of our favorite topics here: Social Media.
Today, my colleague Jarad Lucan returns with a case straight out of Connecticut with national implications.
Seven Deadly Sins of Social Media Employment Screening
You just finished interviewing a great candidate for a manager-level position at your company. She looks great on paper and interviewed well.
But you’re wondering: What dark secrets about her loom on Facebook? After all, you did see that tattoo on her arm and she mentioned a fun time at Bonnaroo 2013.