President Barack Obama uses it. So do tons of businesses to reach customers. But as the second Obama term gets under way, employers continue to struggle with the legal rights of their employees’ social media addiction.

The National Labor Relations Board has gotten into the act, too, and determined that certain social media policies and employment practices violate employee rights to engage in "concerted activity," protected by section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act. The NLRB’s acting GC, Lafe Solomon, has issued three memos on the subject. Solomon’s guidance makes clear that the federal law applies equally to real-world and virtual water coolers. And these first decisions by the board are in agreement:

Hispanics United of Buffalo: An employer’s termination of five employees because of Facebook posts and comments about a co-worker who wanted to complain to management about their performance was unlawful. The board found that the conversation was concerted activity.

Costco Wholesale Corp.: The board found that an employer’s policy prohibiting employees from posting damaging statements about the company on social media would reasonably be construed by employees to prohibit protected activity.

Karl Knauz Motors Inc. d/b/a Knauz BMW: The board found that firing a salesman for photos and comments posted to his Facebook page did not violate federal labor law because the activity was not concerted or protected.•