The Social Media Law Blog is a forum for lawyers, compliance
personnel, human resources managers, and other professionals who
are struggling with the legal implications of social media across a
broad variety of topics. Working professionals and Bloomberg BNA
editors may share ideas, raise issues, and network with colleagues
to build a community of knowledge on this rapidly evolving topic.
The ideas presented here are those of individuals, and Bloomberg
BNA bears no responsibility for the appropriateness or accuracy of
the communications between group members.
Friday, September 21, 2012
by Michael Loatman
Lafe Solomon, acting general counsel
for the National Labor Relations Board, was the subject of an
investigation by the agency's inspector general, and it is possible
he may face further scrutiny by the Department of Justice. The IG
has said that Solomon reviewed Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s social media
policy while holding stock in the company.
Solomon has attracted attention
through a series of three memoranda that address recent NLRB cases
on workplace disputes involving social media. The third memorandum focused solely on corporate social media
policies. It found the policies at six companies, including Target
Corp., General Motors Co., and DISH Network Corp., did not comply
with the National Labor Relations Act, but a revised revised
Wal-Mart policy won NLRB approval.
Although many may view the NLRB as
an agency relevant only to unionized workplaces, Solomon has
reminded employers that Section 7 of the NLRA protects the
"concerted activity" of all workers. Social media policies that
could inhibit the discussion of workplace conditions or salaries
therefore are not permissible, Solomon has advised.
According to the inspector general's report, Solomon requested that all social media cases from
regional agency offices be forwarded for his review. Through that
process an advice memorandum recommending a complaint against
Wal-Mart over its social media policy reached Solomon's desk, the
Solomon allegedly responded to the
proposed complaint by holding a meeting in which he instructed the
agency's division of advice to see if Wal-Mart would settle the
case by amending its social media policy. Solomon warned that
Wal-Mart's prominence meant a complaint would result in a "huge
(and especially negative)" reaction, the IG report said.
Wal-Mart ultimately revised its
social media policy to comply with the NLRA, Solomon's third
The inspector general's report said
that Solomon violated government ethics rules by participating
"personally and substantially" in the Wal-Mart case while holding
more than $15,000 in company stock. Solomon's lawyer disputed that
conclusion, arguing he did not "commit even a technical violation"
of the rules.
Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), chairman
of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Sept. 17
sent U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. a letter that requested a full investigation. Kline said the
IG report made "serious allegations" that Solomon "engaged in
ethical and criminal misconduct."
Copyright 2012, The Bureau of
National Affairs, Inc.
to post a comment.
COPPA Rule Changes: Be Ready for July 1
States Consider Barring Access to Students’ Social Media Accounts
Claim Fails Against Employee Who Lagged In Updating LinkedIn Page After Firing
New Jersey Governor Asks Legislature To Narrow Scope of Social Media Privacy Bill
Disputed Ownership of a Twitter Handle