Author: Beth P. Zoller, XpertHR Legal Editor

June 13, 2013

The brave new world of social media has given employers fresh terrain to navigate and potential minefields to avoid. Given the increase in the use of social media and the rapid speed at which the legal and legislative landscape is changing, employers in small, medium and large companies need to properly institute policies and training in the workplace regarding: (i) managing and monitoring employee's social media usage; and (ii) using it for recruiting purposes.

A recent survey conducted by Emedia.com and XpertHR, combined with our own independent research, shows that social media use on the whole continues to rise. Also on the rise is the number of individuals who use social media while they are at work (67% of companies permit access to social media for business use and 30% allow access for non-business use) and the number of employers who use it for recruiting purposes. Although an increasing number of companies of varying sizes have instituted social media policies (ranging from 51% of small companies to 80% of large companies) and may even monitor employee use of social media (40% of companies monitor use on a company provided computer), employers are not following up by being diligent and providing social media training to supervisors, managers and employees. These individuals potentially remain unaware of the legal issues surrounding their use of social media at work and how to engage in proper and appropriate use. As a result, employers find themselves facing more and more instances of discrimination, harassment, bullying and inappropriate conduct on social media which could lead to employer liability. They may also face claims that they violated the National Labor Relations Act and First Amendment in taking action against employees for negative postings about the company or employer on social media. Lastly, they should be aware that employee misuse of employer-provided computers with respect to social media use can put the employer's networks and equipment at risk.


Social Media in the Workplace

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