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: Social Media Policies, Concerted Activity, and HR Management - Case Study Example

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Social media has impacted the work place in a huge way as employees use it as the platform for communicating with each other, and as a source of information about co-workers and supervisors. Employers…
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Case Study: Social Media Policies, Concerted Activity, and HR Management
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Social Media Policies Number: Social Media Policies Social media is one of the increasingly prevalent aspects of the modern life. Social media has impacted the work place in a huge way as employees use it as the platform for communicating with each other, and as a source of information about co-workers and supervisors. Employers on the other hand have been imposing strict social media policies whereby employees who fail to comply are disciplined or terminated because of using social media as a platform for complaining about, criticize, or publicly bash their company or boss. One of such cases that attracted the attention of the public is the discharge of five employees from the Hispanic United of Buffalo Incorporation for making negative comments on Facebook.
The case involved two employees of Hispanic United of Buffalo, which is a non-profit social service company, whereby one employee criticized the job performance of the other employee. The criticized worker went on Facebook outside of work hours and posted a message stating that she was fed up with the employee being critical of her and asking other co-workers their opinions. In the process, four co-workers replied to the post with a language that encompassed various obscenities, stating that they were also angry with the employee in question (Timmons, 2013). This prompted to immediate discharge of the five employees by the executive director of the HUB alleging that their conducts were violating the HUB’s policy of “zero tolerance” against bullying and harassment. The sacked employees filed a complaint with the NLRB whereby the administrative law judge agreed that the employees’ Facebook postings were protected concerted activity under the NLRA, and that HUB had therefore violated the NLRA by discharging the employees. The judge ordered that the employees be reinstated with a back pay (Timmons, 2013).
The decision made by the judge was invalid because it did not match the provisions made by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Under the act, the NLRB hold that an employee can speak out on a personal Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or any other personal social media account without fear of retaliatory discipline if the posting is “concerted protected activity” that is “not opprobrious” in nature. In this setting, the words “not opprobrious” means “be civil about it” (do not break laws, harass others, or defame) (Flynn, 2012).
The act requires employees to make professional postings which do not hurt the conscience of the other employees/employer or tarnish the image of the organization. The five employees who had been discharge had absolutely violated this provision because their comments were harassing and defaming the other employee. In addition, the comments could have tarnished the public image of the organization because members of the public might have viewed the “HUB” as a non-conducive environment to work in (Flynn, 2012).
Taking disciplinary actions against the five employees was very crucial in order to protect the rights of the defamed employee and the image of the public. However, the executive director needed to be a bit lenient to them and maybe give them a warning instead of discharging them. Solving the issues privately in the organization by warning the employees would have not attracted the attention of the public and the media, hence would not have created a negative image about the organization. It would have also conserved the good working relations amongst the employees in the organization and minimize chances of occurrence of similar situations.
A social media policy is a good method of protecting the image of business organizations, that of the employees as well as that of the employer in an organization. It should include provisions such as the terms of service, disciplinary actions and whether employees should be allowed to identify themselves as employees of the company just to mention a few. Such provisions would prevent any possible malicious damage to the organization’s image, that of the executives as well as that of the employees (Flynn, 2012). For any given society with business organizations being not exceptional, there must be a set of rules governing the code of conduct of the members so that all persons can live harmoniously and respect one another.
References
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Flynn, N. (2012). The social media handbook: Rules, policies, and best practices to successfully manage your organizations social media presence, posts, and potential. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.
Timmons Todd S. (2013, February 22). NLRB Orders Reinstatement of Employees Fired Over Discussion on Facebook | Ogletree Deakins Blog. Retrieved September 2014, from http://blog.ogletreedeakins.com/nlrb-orders-reinstatement-of-employees-fired-over-discussion-on-facebook/
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