Top social media issues affecting the US workplace

With social media developments changing faster than the weather, what’s a diligent employer to do? Those that fail to take adequate precautions could find their company a mere mouse click away from litigation.

If you’re a bit flummoxed by any of the employment issues stemming from social media, then our recent podcast is a “must listen.” Rhode Island employment attorney Brian Lamoreaux, a frequent speaker on the risks and opportunities surrounding social media in the workplace, was my guest and offered a host of insights.

Lamoreaux notes that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has taken a “firm stance” against employer social media policies where these policies could chill the ability of employees to discuss their working conditions.

As an example, he suggests that so-called “courtesy clauses” about respecting others could be construed by employees to mean they cannot go online to criticize their employers. Along similar lines, a policy that severely restricts an employee’s ability to access social media at work could be viewed with disfavor by the labor board.

So what should a good social media policy include? Lamoreaux says, “The policies that I draft always have a line or two reiterating that sexual harassment prohibitions or policies relating to bribery apply equally online.” Another recommendation is to revisit your social media policy frequently to account for new advances, such as Vine, Snapchat and other video or photo apps that may not have existed a year ago.

Other key pieces of advice:

• Exercise caution if using social media to screen job candidates because you might uncover protected
information that could lead to a discrimination claim;

• Video will be the next challenge in the workplace, such as surreptitious video or audio recording of
meetings on smart phones; and

• Employers could be liable for any accident that ensues if they know an employee is responding to text
messages from work while he or she might be driving.

These are just a few highlights from our wide-ranging conversation. To make sure you don’t miss anything, give this latest US podcast a listen.



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