Social Media in the Workplace: A Legal Update

For your reference, here’s a reading list of the most recent articles on JD Supra to help you stay abreast of the myriad legal considerations raised by social media in the workplace. (See archives of previous reading lists at bottom of post.) »

Social Media Use Policies – Fact Versus Fiction (by Miller & Martin PLLC):

“The world of social media is fast-paced and ever-changing. This makes it extremely hard for case law relating to an employer’s ability to restrict employee use of social media to keep up with current technology and social trends. Some employers thus are waiting to create a social media use policy until the law is more settled. However, taking this approach will effectively mean a never-ending wait, and can leave you unprotected when an employee’s use of social media interferes with their or others’ work and/or their (or your!) professional reputation.

On the other side of the spectrum, some employers have enacted broad social media use policies in an effort to be proactive, protect the company’s name and reputation, and keep their employees efficient at work. While a solid social media use policy is a “must have” for all employers in this day and age, recent activity by the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) General Counsel indicates that an overly broad policy may be just as dangerous to an employer as having no policy at all.

Because updating or creating new policies can be a daunting task, especially amid the other first-of-the-year items on your plate, here is a quick checklist of some things to keep in mind when reviewing or creating your social media use policy…” Read on»

The Social Media Revolution: Recent Developments And Guidelines For Employers To Consider (by Sheppard Mullin):

“Employers must heed the social media revolution and the significant changes it has brought to the employment landscape. Indeed, the double lives of social media users can profoundly affect employment decisions spanning issues such as background checks, hiring, termination, and litigation strategies. The reason is that virtual personas created on these websites are not so much creations as they are extensions of users’ real lives. A Facebook profile could just as easily tell you someone’s employment history and experience, as it could their least favorite ’80s hair band. For that matter, a profile could also detail negative information about an individual’s employer…” Read on»

The Legal Minefield Of Social Media Policies (by Venable LLP):

A 19-page slide presentation by labor and employment attorney Lesley Pate Marlin of Venable LLP. Includes information on creating and implementing an effective social media policy; protecting confidential information and trade secrets; protecting privacy & prohibiting disparaging/false information; considering labor law concerns; red flag recommendations; employee use of social media; endorsements and testimonials; compliance with other laws, and more… See presentation»

What’s Not To Like About Social Media? (by Sands Anderson PC):

“The explosive growth of social media, and social networking in particular, carries with it a host of additional risks to employers, making it a Pandora’s Box of ills.

Social Media Policies May Violate Labor Laws. Even if you don’t have a unionized workforce, the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects all employees’ rights to engage in concerted protected activity for their mutual aid and protection. This means that if employees start a chat group on the internet to complain about how much you pay them, they have engaged in protected activity and you cannot fire them. If you have a policy against such activity, that policy is unlawful because it interferes with their right to communicate with co-workers about the terms and conditions of their employment. The rule on what constitutes a permissible social media policy by an employer is in a state of flux. Prior rulings by the National Labor Relations Board (NRLB) gave employers a measure of latitude in what employee conduct could be restrained. The new, pro-union NLRB has indicated it may be providing a new perspective on what policies will be deemed lawful…” Read on»

Also see:

Social Media, Business, and the NLRB: Employee Rights Online

Social Media in the Workplace: Legal Issues, Business Policies

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