California employers wrestling with how to control the social media of their staff now have some guidance concerning permitted discipline of rogue employees.

Recently, the National Labor Relations Board general counsel provided an opinion memorandum which determined that the Arizona Daily Star newspaper acted appropriately in terminating a reporter for posting inappropriate and unprofessional tweets (disparaging other media outlets) on his Twitter account after being warned repeatedly about such conduct. Notwithstanding the reporter’s efforts to shield his tweets so that only approved persons could view the posts, the NLRB general counsel determined that such postings were not protected insofar as they did not relate to the terms and conditions of the reporter’s employment, nor did they seek to involve other Arizona Daily Star employees in issues related to employment.

The NLRB memorandum should give California employers some comfort when determining whether to discipline and even terminate unruly employees who persist in posting commentary that is disruptive or disparaging to the business and does not directly involve employment issues (e.g. pay rates, working hours, etc.).

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