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Is Hyatt's "don't blog about us" employee policy invasive? NLRB General Counsel issues complaint

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Chris in Paris has written about the employer-intrusion topic before — "Employers now demanding job seekers turn over their Facebook passwords, usernames" — but the Hyatt employee handbook goes beyond that.

Take a look:


■ "Blogging" is defined. That's not a friendly definition — looks pretty inclusive, doesn't it? These are all the activities that can get you canned.

■ "Could have an adverse affect [sic] on Hyatt's business interests" — Cuts to the chase. Off-duty and off the clock, you are responsible for protecting "Hyatt's business interests."

■ "Compliance with federal, state and/or local laws" — This has two effects [sic]. One is to scare you, like the FBI warning on your DVDs. The other is to allow them to swim, if they can, just this side of the law (they hope; we'll see).

■ "Take steps to determine their identity" — Or as Count Floyd would say, "Be very scared." Seriously.

All you need to know? If you're a Hyatt employee, your job is to protect "Hyatt's business interests" in your off hours. The implied punishment is to find yourself on the secret "under-performing" list in the next layoff.

So how is this different from being told you can't bitch about your employers ... on your own time ... at Karaoke Night ... with a big loud mic in your hand ... on Mardi Gras ... with a big loud crowd outside listening.

Hyatt wants to shut that stuff down, if they can. Welcome to your job.

And now the news — the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board, a federal agency) is looking into it:

Thankfully, the National Labor Relations Board’s General Counsel is calling these policies into question. The use of social media by off-the-clock employees has become a hot button issue recently with the NLRB, and in a recent complaint the Board’s General Counsel found that Hyatt’s policies are overly broad and illegally violate free speech [pdf]. The company has yet to change its employee handbooks or clarify its policies.
I'm of two minds on this. The first is, Yes, go for it, Mr. NLRB. The second is, Let's see if you're a captive agency, in an election year, after 30 years of Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Bush rule.

I'm all eagerness to see which of my two minds has lost its mind. Stay tuned. I'll update this when it resolves.

Laboriously yours,


(To follow on Twitter or to send links: @Gaius_Publius)

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