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NLRB General Counsel Issues Complaint on Hyatt’s Employee Blogging Policy

It’s a good thing Facebook doesn’t have a “dislike” button, because employees of Hyatt Hotels could get fired for using it.

There’s been a lot of buzz recently about employers checking the Facebook accounts of job applicants, a scary practice that raises serious privacy and free speech concerns. Unfortunately, invasion of privacy extends to some employers’ current workforce as well. Take a peek at Hyatt’s Social Media Policy, which appears in its employee handbook (see handbook excerpt below):

Avoid commenting on Hyatt or any Hyatt location…Hyatt may request that you temporarily confine your use of social media to matters unrelated to Hyatt if it determines this is necessary or advisable to ensure compliance with applicable laws or Hyatt policies.

Hyatt’s policy then goes on to define as “confidential information” any “personnel information” which if released could harm the company’s image, which is easily read to include worker complaints about workplace mistreatment including discrimination. As a result, workers could end up fired for Facebook posts or tweets made on their own time in the comfort of their homes.

Commenting on new employer social media policies today, Howie Klein says, “Hyatt wants to monitor its employees’ Facebook and Twitter accounts to make sure they’re putting on a happy face when they’re off the clock as well.”

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Thankfully, the National Labor Relations Board’s General Counsel is calling these policies into question. The use of social media by off-the-clock employees has become a hot button issue recently with the NLRB, and in a recent complaint the Board’s General Counsel found that Hyatt’s policies are overly broad and illegally violate free speech. The company has yet to change its employee handbooks or clarify its policies.

What do you think? Is it right for Hyatt or any employer to read your blog, tweets or wall posts, pink slip in hand?