button Vol. 5
No. 3
Winter 1999

line INSIDE line

Workplace Romance -
How About a "Love Contract"?
line 'Right to Organize'
- THE Hot Labor Issue To Test Candidates in the Year 2000, Says Sweeney
line Disgruntled Workers Air Corporate 'Dirty Laundry'
on Internet World Wide Web Sites
line Supreme Court Rulings and ADA, 1999 Review
line Answers about Employee Break Periods
line BCG Has a New Address! line Briefs

Braun Consulting News
News on Personnel, Labor Relations and Benefits

See our Archive Pages for Back Issues of Braun Consulting News!

button Disgruntled Workers Air Corporate 'Dirty Laundry' on Internet World Wide Web Sites

A growing number of employees are setting up employer-specific web sites and on-line discussion forums to air concerns and 'corporate dirty laundry'. When employees feel like all other avenues of complaint have been blocked, or are frustrated or angry because they feel that they've been mistreated they sometimes resort to a web site to vent their views.

Even though all of these web sites may not be damaging, some spread false rumors and can possibly tarnish an organization's reputation. As other employees spend time tuned in to read the latest, and often anonymous, snide or cutting postings on these sites, productivity and morale can drop. Another negative effect of these sites can be if one of them pops up when a job candidate is searching the web for information about the company.

Unless these web sites violate trademarks or uses employer-copyrighted materials, their content can be protected as free speech by the First Amendment.

In fact, if a web site discusses company policies, pay, safety, or benefits, and invites other employees to comment, then it can be considered concerted activity and is protected by the National Labor Relations Act. To discipline the employee responsible for the web site could violate the NLRA.

Here are some things that employers can do to help with this situation:

  • Establish a policy and disciplinary procedures governing Internet and e-mail use to ensure that employees are not designing and browsing these web sites on company time. (see our 'Internet Code of Conduct - Model Policy' article or our article on 'E-mail Policy - A Fact of Life')
  • Stop employees from visiting anti-company sites by using web site blocking software
  • Consider hiring a service to search the Internet for inappropriate uses of the company name (for example http://www.ajconsulting.com)
  • Don't over react if you find a web site that is negative. Monitor the site but take no action unless the site receives a large number of hits or visitors. The legal fees probably wouldn't be worth it to fight the existence of the site. Often they will only receive a small number of hits.

If you have any questions about these policies or need help in setting one up for your company, please contact us at Braun Consulting Group.

Supreme Court Rulings and ADA, 1999 Review Next Page

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