Category Archives: In The News

NLRB’s Advice Memorandum to Giant Foods LLC: A Giant Shock to Employers

On July 11, 2013, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) released a copy of the Advice Memorandum (find it here) issued for Giant Food LLC. The Advice Memorandum, originally issued in  2012, concludes that portions of Giant Food LLC’s social media policy violates the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”). The NLRB has struggled over recent years to provide guidance on employer social media policies. The constant introduction of new social media venues and capabilities, along with occasional contradictory court rulings, only add to the confusion. Under Section 7 of the NLRA, employees have the right to band together for mutual aid and protection. Policies that are overbroad or vague are being struck down by the NLRB at a steady rate for fear that such policies will chill employee rights. Giant Foods LLC social media guidelines stated, in relevant part:
…You have an obligation to protect confidential, non-public information to which you have access...
Read more

Who Owns Your Company’s Social Media Accounts?

Some business assets are easy to spot: a company car or fax machine, for example. Others are intangible, like a bank account or line of credit. And then there is one item that is just emerging as a recognized business asset: social media accounts. Yes, a business can “own” its social media presence. Online accounts for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and so on are valuable resources and, increasingly, businesses are struggling with determining to whom this property belongs.

What’s the Big Deal?

There is two-fold value associated with these social media accounts. First, an account page contains user-generated content that has been created specifically to promote that business’s goods or services. It has been developed, at the very least, as a means to increase awareness about a business. Some social media pages serve as a way to respond to customer complaints, release announcements, or advertise special promotions. Second, the account has followers, friends, or connections that are unique to it as a business. The accounts...
Read more

Victories for Employers at the Supreme Court Level, cont.

On June 25, 2013, the Supreme Court, in the second big win for employers, clarified what standard employees must meet to successfully pursue a retaliation claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. No longer will employees be able to prevail on retaliation claims just by demonstrating that retaliation was a “motivating factor” in an employer’s adverse employment action towards the employee. The case decided was styled University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar. The plaintiff, Nassar, was hired by the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (“UTSW”), but resigned after one of his supervisors allegedly made remarks about his productivity and national origin.  He then sought a job at another hospital, but that hospital withdrew its job offer to Nassar after one of his former UTSW supervisors opposed the hire.  Nassar then sued UTSW, alleging discrimination and retaliation. A jury found for Nassar on both claims, but UTSW appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the...
Read more