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Next test for social media policies?

Posted On: Feb. 13, 2011 12:00 AM CST

HARTFORD, Conn.—The National Labor Relations Board has another chance to define its stance on employer social media and electronic communications policies through a charge against another Connecticut business.

The Connecticut State Employees Assn. has filed a charge against Student Transportation America Inc., accusing the school bus transportation company of violating federal law by having workplace rules that prohibit “the use of electronic communication and/or social media in a manner that might target, offend, disparage or harm customers, passengers or employees; or in a manner that might violate any other policy.”

The allegation by the CSEA, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union, was filed Feb. 4 against the Stamford, Conn., office of the transportation company.

The Wall, N.J.-based company did not return a call seeking comment.

Unlike the NLRB regional office's complaint against American Medical Response of Connecticut Inc., where an employee was disciplined and fired for making comments on her Facebook profile, the CSEA made no specific allegations of that sort.

Instead, the CSEA alleges that Student Transportation America violated a portion of the National Labor Relations Act in its employee handbook through provisions that “interfere with, restrain or coerce employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed.”

“I'm not really sure where this case will go yet, and maybe the two parties will work something out, but I could see a formal complaint being filed in this case before long,” said Seth Borden, a New York-based partner at McKenna Long & Aldridge L.L.P.'s labor practice, who is not involved with the case.

“There are a cleaner set of facts here than in the AMR case, particularly about the rules that are maintained (in the handbook) and how they violate the NLRA,” Mr. Borden said.