Social Media Use

Author: Beth Zoller, XpertHR Legal Editor

The use of social media in the workplace by both an employer and an employee is rapidly expanding as technology evolves and becomes ever more present. As a result, an employer needs to understand how to develop effective social media policies and properly monitor employee use of social media. Further, an employer should recognize the liability concerns that employee use of social media creates, from the disclosure of the employer's confidential and proprietary information and trade secrets, to discrimination and harassment claims, to decreased employee productivity. While it is important for an employer to regulate the employee use of social media, this must be balanced against the right of employees to lead personal and private lives.

Further, an employer needs to know when, whether and how it should use social media for recruiting and hiring purposes to gain more information about job applicants. It should be aware of social media privacy legislation that is being proposed and passed at both the federal and state level to prohibit employers from seeking social media password account information from applicants and employees as a condition of employment.

Lastly, an employer should be aware that the National Labor Relations Board has taken the position that employees can engage in protected concerted activity and engage in collective action to improve their working conditions over social media such as Facebook. Therefore, in enforcing any social media policy and disciplining employees for social media use, an employer should proceed cautiously.

XpertHR has a variety of Tools and resources to help guide an employer through the legal pitfalls of social media use.


How To

Policies and Documents

Law Reports


Webinars and Podcasts

Quick Reference

Supervisor Briefing

Employment Law Manual


Recruiting and Hiring

Social Media Policies

Disciplining Employees for Social Media Use

Protected Concerted Activity and the NLRB

Social Media Accounts for Work-Related Purposes

Discrimination and Harassment