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Your Business, Social Media, and Employee Discipline – The New Rule You Need to Know

Lucere Legal helps business owners with the latest employment laws

The likes of Facebook and Twitter have given the public near infinite ability to voice their grievances and with it an opportunity for your employees to gripe online —and a recent ruling by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) threatens to make this headache for business owners worse.

Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act had been expanded to cover public speech on social media, and that expansion has been broadened following a ruling in a case brought against Triple Play Sports Bar & Grille. What this means is that an employee that “likes” a post on Facebook that is critical of his or her employer is wholly shielded from disciplinary action over it.

In the case against the bar, one employee posted a complaint about the employer’s handling of its payroll. And they may have indeed had a point— the employer was found to have made a mistake in its estimation of state tax withholdings, leaving the surprise of covering the extra tax bill for the employee. After one employee liked the post and several others left comments, the company fired the entire group.

These postings received protection from the NRLB because it determined them to be work-related, and thus covered under Section 7. Although the employer argued that the inflammatory nature of the comments ought to leave them unprotected, the Board disagreed.

Here, given that the initial frustrations voiced were founded in fact, the Board dismissed the employer’s categorization of them as defamatory. No distinction was acknowledged between the original poster and the subsequent comments, so all received protection.

This ruling is hardly the only one concerning social media use by employees in recent years. It is difficult to imagine the Board reining in such statements in the future, so business owners must put real thought into disciplining an employee for their social media activities. To be safe, employers should speak to someone well-experienced and up-to-date with employment law—like those at Lucere Legal.

We help business owners avoid costly legal disputes through proactive business planning, including crafting agreements and procedures to ensure you comply with state and federal law. To learn more about our personal approach to business planning, call us today at 612-206-3700 or reach out via our online contact form to schedule a small business consultation session.

Image Courtesy of Stuart Miles | FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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The plain-English guide for Minnesota small business owners

When it comes to business, ignorance isn't bliss; ignorance is risk.

There's a handful of legal topics that business owners should be familiar with, at least on a rudimentary level, to reduce the risk of having something horrible come out of left field.

This book is a legal guide to help you put the most common business legal issues on your radar, with enough information for you to be on the alert for when you may need to get some professional advice.

The intention in arming you with this information is so that you can proceed in business confidently and with fewer legal quagmires.

Do you have a cabin?

The first generation that buys a cabin enjoys it to the fullest and it’s a magical place where happy memories are made and families go for some much needed respite. Unfortunately, without thoughtful planning, the chances of the cabin staying a place of happiness and tranquility into successive generations is very, very slim.

If you haven’t done the planning in advance and made it legally binding, the family members (and their ex-spouses and new spouses) will have to work every detail out for themselves. If they can’t, what is likely to happen is a lawsuit called an action for partition that forces everyone to sell their interest. This lawsuit is expensive, and the costs of litigation will come out of the proceeds of the sale of the cabin, so to add insult to injury to those who wanted to keep the cabin but couldn’t afford to buy the others out, they are footing part of the legal bills in the lawsuit against them. Ouch!

It’s no wonder that family members stop speaking for years after the cabin conflict is “resolved.” You can’t make family relationships perfect, but you can take away much of the fuel for the family conflict fire. That’s what cabin planning does, and it has the nice side effect of giving you peace of mind now.

That’s why Kimberly wrote The Minnesota Cabin Planning Guide and Workbook, and you can get a free electronic copy of her book on our cabin planning website, or you can find it in many county libraries in Minnesota, or you can get it on amazon.com.

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