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What You Can't Say in an Employee Handbook

10.16.12

Human Resource Executive Online interviewed Chicago attorney Peter Gillespie for the October 16 article "What You Can't Say in an Employee Handbook." The article stated that recent decisions by the National Labor Relations Board regarding employee handbooks should prompt human resource leaders to review and possibly revise their own handbooks, as well as handle social media disciplinary issues more thoughtfully. Peter warned employers to resist the urge to draft social media policies that are too broad. "Employers need to be careful to prepare guidelines for employees relating to acceptable conduct on social media that would not be misinterpreted as limits on their employees' right to discuss workplace conditions or to organize in ways that are protected by the National Labor Relations Act." He noted that even an employee's perception of a published rule can affect its lawfulness. Recent board decisions show that if an employee could "reasonably construe" a policy to impede their protected rights to discuss workplace terms and conditions, it violates federal law. That factor should play a role as company officials update and revise handbooks.

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