The National Labor Relations Board has invalidated Costco Wholesale Corp.’s electronic posting rules in its first decision on an employer’s social media policy, saying the rules are overly broad.

Costco’s policy had banned workers from posting statements online that harmed not only the company’s reputation, but also anyone else’s. The NLRB decided on Sept. 7 that the policy violated the National Labor Relations Act.

Ballard Spahr’s Denise M. Keyser said the ruling should prompt other employers to examine their own policies.

“What employers don’t want to do is just take a policy off the shelf,” she said. “Employers should sit down and think about that they really need to address in their policy, such as employees not giving away trade secrets or not disclosing patient information covered by [the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act], and then be as specific as they can.”

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