Boch Honda and International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, District Lodge 15, Local Lodge 447 Case No. 1-CA-83551 (2014)

The International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers (Union) alleged that Boch Honda maintained certain overly restrictive rules in its Employee Handbook in violation of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). These rules related to the company’s extensive social media policy. Pursuant to the NLRA, employers cannot prevent employees from discussing their conditions of employment with their fellow employees, radio and television stations, newspapers, or unions. Boch Honda’s social media policy contained the following provisions:

1. The Company requires its employees to confine any and all social media commentaries to topics that do not disclose any personal or financial information of employees, customers or other persons, and do not disclose any confidential or proprietary information of the Company.

2. If an employee posts comments about the Company or related to the Company’s business or a policy issue, the employee must identify him/herself. . .

3. If an employee’s online blog, posting or other social media activities are inconsistent with, or would negatively impact the Company’s reputation or brand, the employee should not refer to the Company, or identify his/her connection to the Company. . .

4. While the Company respects employees’ privacy, conduct that has, or has the potential to have a negative effect on the Company might be subject to disciplinary action up to, and including, termination, even if the conduct occurs off the property or off the clock.

5. Employees may not post videos or photos which are recorded in the workplace, without the Company’s permission.

6. If an employee is ever asked to make a comment to the media, the employee should contact the Vice President of Operations before making a statement.

7. The Company may request that an employee temporarily confine its social media activities to topics unrelated to the Company or a particular issue if it believes this is necessary or advisable to ensure compliance with applicable laws or regulations or the policies in the Employee Handbook. The Company may also request that employees provide it access to any commentary they posted on social media sites.

8. Employees choosing to write or post should write and post respectfully regarding current, former or potential customers, business partners, employees, competitors, managers and the Company. Employees will be held responsible for and can be disciplined for what they post and write on any social media. However, nothing in this Policy is intended to interfere with employees’ rights under the National Labor Relations Act.

9. Managers and supervisors should think carefully before “friending,” “linking” or the like on any social media with any employees who report to them.

The ALJ stated “It requires little discussion to find that a number of these provisions clearly violate the NLRA as employees would reasonably construe these provisions as preventing them from discussing their conditions of employment with their fellow employees, radio and television stations, newspapers or unions, or limiting the subjects that they could discuss.”

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