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The Federal Government Wants to “Friend” Your Employees

The federal government is looking for ways to communicate with your employees.  Why?  Many federal agency audits begin with a single disgruntled worker complaining to the government, often after being terminated.  Without an informant, it is difficult for an agency to uncover employment law violations.  Increasingly, federal agencies are expanding their outreach to employees, placing businesses at risk for more audits.

For example, the United States Department of Labor (“DOL”) just published an “Employee Guide” on the Family and Medical Leave Act.  In addition to explaining the requirements of the law, it instructs employees on how to file a complaint with the agency.  The DOL hosted a webinar explaining the Guide and encouraged participants to publicize the Guide through social media outlets.

The National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) is also adapting its methods to get its message to employees.  After facing numerous legal obstacles in mandating a workplace poster to inform employees of their rights to unionize and telling them how to contact the agency, the NLRB created an interactive webpage describing workers’ rights to engage in “protected concerted activity.”

President Obama has been called the “Facebook President” for his use of social media in his 2008 campaign.  It’s no surprise his administration is following in his footsteps.  The NLRB and DOL both have Facebook pages with thousands of “likes.”  Chai Feldblum, the Commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, has a Twitter account with more than 1,600 followers; the NLRB has more than 3,700.  The DOL is by far the most popular, with more than 43,400 followers.  These numbers prove the agencies are succeeding in getting the public’s attention.

Despite the perception that government bureaucracy moves at a snail-like pace and is slow to change, the federal agencies of greatest concern to employers are solidly in the 21st century.  Employers should not underestimate the savvy of the government in reaching their employees.  Now is the time to take a good look at your policies and practices, before your employees send the government to do it for you!

Brody and Associates regularly advises management on complying and remaining up to date with state and federal employment laws.  If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com or 203.965.0560.