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Facebook policies tricky for employers, workers

WASHINGTON — In the age of instant tweets and impulsive Facebook posts, some companies are still trying to figure out how they can limit what their employees say about work online without running afoul of the law.

Confusion about what workers can or can't post has led to a surge of more than 100 complaints at the National Labor Relations Board — most within the past year — and created uncertainty for businesses about how far their social media policies can go.

"Employers are struggling to figure out what the right policies are and what they should do when these cases arise," said Michael Eastman, labor law policy director at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

In one case, a Chicago-area car salesman was fired after going on Facebook to complain that his BMW dealership served overcooked hot dogs, stale buns and other cheap food instead of nicer fare at an event to roll out a posh new car model.

The NLRB's enforcement office found the comments were legally protected because the salesman was expressing concerns about the terms and conditions of his job, frustrations he had earlier shared in person with other employees.


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