Lawsuit claims common web policy clauses are illegal

Most companies have some kind of policy forbidding employees from badmouthing the business online. But a recent federal charge claims such policies are illegal.

A case was recently settled between an ambulance service and an employee who was fired for insulting her boss publicly on a social networking site.

The case was brought on behalf of the employee by the National Labor Relations Board, which claimed the company’s rules restricted employees’ rights to freely discuss their working conditions.

Though the courts never got a chance to weigh in on the issue, a similar complaint was recently raised, this time challenging Student Transportation of America’s overall policy on “electronic communication.”

The complaint, which you can read in full here, targets the employer’s restrictions on “electronic communication and/or social media in a manner that may target, offend, disparage or harm customers, passengers or employees” and “making demeaning/derogatory statements about the company, fellow employees and customers.”

We’ll be following this complaint as it progresses, because a court decision could have a big impact on how many companies structure their computer use and social networking policies. We’ll keep you posted.

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