Delta Tightens Social Media Screws on Employees

Delta Tightens Social Media Screws on Employees

Delta’s new social media policy seeks to rightly protect employees from hateful, discriminatory, harassing or other unprofessional language that could harm Delta, Delta people, and customers. Sounds similar to policies put in place by most major corporations right? But there’s more…

That Delta Difference

The updated social media policy is Delta’s latest effort to put a lid on dissension in the workplace; paving the way for additional company sanctioned discipline and termination of flight attendants without recourse. Delta flight attendants are not represented by a union but are actively campaigning to become unionized. Delta is fighting the campaign every step of the way using techniques prescribed by a law firm specializing in anti-union strategies. The new social media policy is the latest addition to their aresenal of harassment methods.

Unless posts are gushingly positive towards Delta, employees feel they may be risking discipline and termination. One section, “Your activities have implication to the Delta brand”, is intentionally subjective; leaving ample room for interpretation when used as a tool to discipline or terminate an employee for discussing issues related to their employment and working conditions at Delta on social media.

Delta has stepped up efforts to intimidate employees, especially those who’ve become active in bringing union representation to the airline’s flight attendants. Discipline over sick leave usage has served as a popular cover for Delta management to selectively punish and even terminate employees.

With their new social media, Delta is laying the groundwork to step up the use of social media policy “violations” as grounds to jettison employees who speak out on social media.

“They began meeting me when I came to work. It wasn’t just one supervisor, it was 2 and sometimes 3; like they wanted to scare me and make me feel ganged up on. They would show me pictures of my posts sent to them by snitches. Then I would be met in the middle of my trip when passing through a hub. It got me to the point where I was having anxiety attacks at work! It’s not fair. We need a union!” —– Delta flight attendant based in Atlanta

Delta’s Do’s and Don’ts for Posting

Posting Tips from Delta Management

Delta is providing employees with examples of picture-perfect posts that would be ‘liked’ by Delta management. A good rule of thumb —  if it looks like a Madison Avenue advertising agency created your post, it’s probably good to go!

Delta makes praising the airline on social media easy as pie.

Questions and Answers

Delta’s new social media policy may be in violation of employees protected rights per the Railway Labor Act.

We decided to contact the legal department of the Association of Flight Attendants, which represents the flight attendants of 20 airlines, to find out how Delta employees should navigate the new policy and they forwarded this very helpful Q&A:

1. On social media can I talk about concerns about my work day, including schedules over duty time maximums, not enough rest, inadequate or unavailable hotels, etc.?

Yes, as a Delta Flight Attendant you may talk about your working conditions and how they affect you and your fellow Flight Attendants. The focus of your comments should be on how all Flight Attendants are affected by Company work rules and policies, not just your own experience. In so doing, you are acting “in concert” with your colleagues by discussing issues of mutual concern at the workplace.

2. Can I post a picture of myself in uniform with my union pin?

Under federal law, Flight Attendants are permitted to wear a small, discrete union pin on your uniform. Therefore, posting your picture in uniform with a Union pin cannot be the basis of discipline.

3. Can Delta discipline me for statements I make unrelated to work just because I’m a Delta employee?

Generally, an employer cannot discipline an employee for off-duty speech that is unrelated to work. The exception to this would be statements that involve discussion of illegal acts or threats of physical harm against another person, then the Company may investigate. Obviously, those remarks are never acceptable on social media or anywhere.

4. Can I identify myself as a Delta employee on social media?

Yes. You can identify yourself as a Delta employee on social media. Delta’s social media policy explicitly permits it.

5. Do I need to be concerned about being a member of a facebook group where other people are violating Delta’s social media policy?

If you believe that other individuals on your Facebook group are violating Delta’s social media policy, then you remind them of the policy and ask that they cease their unacceptable conduct. You can’t be held responsible for someone else’s conduct.

6. How does the law protect my free speech rights?

The law protects your right to speak freely on issues of mutual concern with your fellow Flight Attendants. Defamatory and false statements are not protected speech. You should also avoid making any disparaging comments about individual Company supervisors. Practicing mutual respect in your workplace or on social media is always best.

7. Am I more protected or less protected if I have a union pin on my uniform?

Wearing a union pin shows your support for Union representation. If you are disciplined because of Union activity (which would be illegal), the fact you wore a union pin establishes you as a union supporter and would support the fact you were disciplined for legally supporting the right to union representation. In other words, you gain certain protections by wearing your union pin. Report any illegal interference with your rights to [email protected]

8. What’s the best way to protect my job while speaking up about what I’d like to see changed?

Remember to discuss your concerns about workplace issues in broad terms that focus on the impact of those policies and practices on all Delta Flight Attendants. Avoid personal attacks against other employees or supervisors. Informed and respectful comments on social media about working conditions at Delta constitute protected speech – for which you cannot be disciplined.



Gailen David is co-host of the nationally syndicated travel talk show, "The Jet Set" with over 1.8M weekly viewers in over 200 television markets in 12 countries. A former flight attendant, he leads a global discussion about "Jetiquette", the rules or code of civilized travel. Gailen is a frequent contributor to CNN, HLN and USA Today on topics related to the airline travel experience and of course, Jetiquette. Visit Gailen's website

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