Another employer has learned the hard way that restricting employees' social media rights can be illegal.
Valero Services provides employee leasing services to the oil industry. In 2012, the United Steelworkers of America, which represents some of its workers, filed a grievance with the National Labor Relations Board in Port Arthur, Texas, claiming Valero's national social media policy infringed upon workers' legal rights to discuss their conditions of work.
The NLRB investigated and supported the union's position. The company and the board reached a settlement to resolve the matter, and Valero is now implementing the settlement.
“Under the terms of the settlement, Valero Services agreed to notify employees that it will rescind its unlawful social media policy and to post NLRB notices at its 52 facilities nationwide, as well as to mail notices to employees, advising them that they will not be prohibited from using social media to discuss their terms and conditions of employment,” the NLRB said in a release.
Commenting on the settlement, the online news portal Labor Relations today said, “Employers should take heed here, particularly because the Board has shown a propensity to target social media policies as overly restrictive, even in non-union settings.”