Employees Have the Right to Post on Social Media

As an increasing number of Americans use social media, questions on the legality of workplace policies limiting certain behaviors online have begun to arise.

As the use of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook increase, employers have implemented rules limiting what employees can say online about their workplace and employers. Some companies have implemented policies that restrict what an employee can say about co-workers. However, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has ruled many of these policies are too broad and the restrictions illegal.

The NLRB, an independent agency of the U.S. government, mediates disputes between employees and management.

The NLRB issued its first rulings on employer social media policies in late 2012. These rulings are important because they offer guidance on what social media behaviors will be protected under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) in the future. This also affects what employers can and cannot control in their company policies and practices.

Section 7 of the NLRA permits employees to engage in “concerted activities for the purpose of collectively bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.” Because of this stipulation, employees are protected if they discuss job-related issues such as improving work conditions, benefits and wages. This also means, even on a social media site, co-workers may discuss the conditions of their employment.

Under Section 8 of the NLRA, employers are prohibited from interfering or limiting employees from exercising those rights mentioned in Section 7.

In one of its most notable cases, in September 2012, the NLRB ruled that the Costco Wholesale Corporation violated Section 8 of the NLRA by upholding a rule that forbids employees from electronically posting statements that could damage the company or any person’s reputation.

Since Costco’s policy broadly limited any statement that could negatively affect the company, the NLRB held that the policy infringed on the employee rights protected in Section 7.

In 2010, several employees of Hispanics United of Buffalo, a nonprofit social services provider located in upstate New York, were fired over their Facebook posts about complaints made by a fellow employee.

In December 2012, the NLRB ruled the employees had been wrongfully terminated. It found that the posts were the type of “concerted activity” that is protected by the First Amendment.

Employers still have limited rights to protect legitimate company interests such as confidential business information, trade secrets, or an employee’s private health details.

Placing limits on social media posts made by employees without overstepping legal boundaries remains difficult for employers. However, employees engaged in “concerted activity” via a social media site are now just as protected as when they are on company property.

Texas Southern University Students Reflect on the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

As the nation celebrates the accomplishments of notable African-Americans during Black History Month, Texas Southern University students are expressing their views on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

One of many civil rights leaders who rose to fame during the 1950’s and 60’s, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. helped pave the way to racial equality among all races in every aspect of society. King led the fight for racial equality through sit-ins, boycotts, marches, and public speeches such as “I Have a Dream.”

“We are in school for a higher purpose,” said Lindsay Seymour, a human services and computer sciences student. “If we keep the goal to better ourselves, our communities, and African-American people in entirety, that will honor Dr. King. We would be making him proud as a legacy instead of being stereotypical African-Americans that people depict on television.”

Martin Luther King Jr. Day became a holiday in 1983 after President Ronald Reagan signed a bill creating a day to honor King. However, as time passes and racism becomes a less prevalent issue, King’s work is seemingly losing significance among youth and young adults.

“I think King’s work should be more important to children,” said Courtenay Euton, a second year law student at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law. “People don’t realize how important diversity is inside education and the work environment.”

“The importance of the Civil Rights Movement and Black History are becoming watered down,” said Seymour. “Children don’t really have a grasp of how difficult it was for African-Americans to overcome things during those days.”

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Depending on the person’s environment, Dr. King’s work is still revered.

“I grew up in an area where it was really important,” said Ify Anugwom, a senior biology major. “We learned about Dr. King throughout the entire school year. Some adults may not see it as important because they were not exposed to it.”

Dr. King hoped that one day people of color would “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” And with the United States’ election of the first African-American president, Barack Obama, King’s dream has arguably been accomplished. However, racism is still an issue for young adults.

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“I think more work is needed, but we have come a long way,” said Euton. “I still think some people will always be stuck in the old ways of racism but until we can get everyone to look past that it won’t work 100 percent. I think there is still racism and ethnic differences that people are not willing to compromise within teams and work environments. I think people can let their own culture get the best of them.”

Dr. King’s work on civil rights and equality left a lasting mark on the nation. His work paved the way for all people of color to have the option to achieve their goals.

“Dr. King’s legacy means justice,” said Branden Leverette, a senior communications major. “He fought for us to be where we are today.”

“His legacy means to help your fellow brother, especially as African-Americans,” said Seymour. “Also, to do what you can to make sure that equality is given to everyone regardless of differences they may have. Your service as a person can never stop if there is an injustice to anyone anywhere.”

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Social Media Serves as a Vital Tool for The Socially Savvy

Written on April 15, 2013

The advent and rising popularity of social media has caused those working in the media to adapt the way they do their jobs. Social media now serves as a vital tool for everything from promoting events to sharing a completed news story with a broad audience.

Social media, whether web-based or mobile-based, encourages two-way communication. Websites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn facilitate interactive communication between celebrities, businesses, media professionals, organizations and everyday individuals. Through various social media platforms, media professionals now have a new way of sharing relevant and important information with the general public.

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“Social media provides a platform that allows businesses to directly engage with their consumers,” said Mercedes Posey, a public relations major at Texas Southern University. “The instant communication channels allow for a seamless dissemination of information and an extended reach to a much broader audience.”

Facebook and Twitter are the two most commonly used social media platforms.

Facebook is the most popular social media platform, with over 133 million active users in the United States and over 400 million worldwide. It serves as an important and immediate tool for media professionals to reach others. Users have the option of posting their own updates to their news feed or replying to one posted by a friend or someone they follow.

Facebook is also a useful tool in finding sources due to its ability to connect people who would otherwise not interact. Each user is searchable by their name, location, occupation, network affiliations, etc. Through Facebook, journalists and other professionals are now able to instantaneously interact with a broad audience from their cell phone or computer.

With the rise of Twitter, the media are no longer telling stories and giving information once or twice a day. Through 140 characters or a tweet, media professionals can now provide a steady stream of information continuously throughout the day that can be on any topic.

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Twitter has an almost instantaneous ability to spread information to an extremely wide audience. Through the use of a hashtag, which is an important word or phrase with no spaces prefixed by a number sign, a tweet can instantly be seen by a potentially worldwide audience.

No matter the platform, social media gives media professionals an opportunity to interact with the general public. Social media not only assists people in a professional capacity, but it also gives the general public and those who would not normally be heard a voice.