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Total Articles: 36

Employers, Facebook can be your friend!

Our past alerts on social media issues typically center on NLRB and court decisions that are not always favorable to employers. A recent arbitration decision, however, highlights that Facebook may provide an employer with the evidence it needs to root out workplace dishonesty.

NLRB Ruling in Social Media Case Provides Useful Guidance for Employers

Drafting a social media policy in compliance with Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA” or “the Act”) has become increasingly challenging for employers, as the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or “the Board”) continues to parse individual words and phrases in employers’ social media policies. Enforcing that policy can be even more challenging as the Board and counsel struggle to apply the 1930s concept of “protected concerted activity” to employees’ burgeoning 21st century social media activity. The Board’s August 18, 2016 decision in Chipotle Services LLC1 provides employers with useful guidance on both drafting provisions commonly seen in social media policies, and enforcing the policy in response to employees’ social media posts.

Who Owns Your Company's Social Media Account – You, Or One Of Your Employees?

Employers have been asking an important question with more frequency in recent times: who owns the company’s social media account – the employer or the employee running the account? Business social media accounts often contain a lot of pertinent and valuable information, and unfettered access to that account could give a departing employee a fast head start towards competing with you.

Can Your Employees Take A Selfie At Work?

Many employers maintain policies prohibiting employees from using cell phones and other recording devices at work. The reasons for such policies range from maintaining productivity, to protecting customer and employee privacy, to eliminating the way that recording devices limit the free and candid flow of workplace exchanges.

Ownership of Social Media Accounts

It is becoming increasingly common for issues to arise relating to employer vs. employee ownership of a social media account and the names, addresses, etc. that go along with that account. Business-related social media accounts typically contain useful information developed over the course of employment that can give a departing employee a head start in competition with an ex-employer. While there has been a lot of litigation about these issues, there are relatively few reported decisions. One such decision can be found in CDM Media USA, Inc. v. Simms (Cause No. 14 CV 9111, N.D. Ill., March 25, 2015), in which the court does not resolve issues relating to social media ownership, but it does highlight some important steps a company can take to safeguard its information. The opinion is a response to a motion to dismiss filed by the defendant.

Social Gatherings and Social Media this Holiday Season – What's Not to "Like"?

According to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, almost 90% of employers throw a holiday party. Taking into account holiday parties hosted by employees for co-workers, there is a very good chance your company's employees will be rubbing shoulders by the eggnog this year.

"My Employee Said What On Facebook!?!" How To Discipline Workers For Social Media Posts That Cross The Line

There is little more frustrating than your employees spouting off on social media and disparaging the workplace. Unfortunately, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) maintains that employees have wide latitude to criticize their employers on social media.

The Growing List of States Protecting Social Media Privacy

As we have previously reported, a growing list of jurisdictions have enacted social media privacy laws applicable to employers.

Managing Social Media-Issues Consistent With The Law

In this age of electronic communication, social media has added another dimension to the array of issues schools must address in order to maintain the integrity of the learning environment while also preserving the rights of students and employees. The courts are faced with numerous lawsuits arising out of school discipline for conduct such as cyber-bullying, harassment, or threats of danger, usually originating off-campus.

Employee Fired For Facebook Rant Doesn't Like Status

There’s no doubt about it – Facebook is the 21st Century water cooler. Workers who used to gather in the break room to talk about the latest sports news, the newest outrageous celebrity scandal, or the latest office gossip are now sharing this communication online. In some cases that’s none of your business as an employer. But what if the ranting is about you? Or your workplace?

Facebook: The New Water Cooler – Not The New Vegas

As of June 2013, Facebook, the reigning social-media giant, had 1.15 billion monthly active users who spent an average of 8.3 hours a month on Facebook. During roughly the same period of time, Facebook users "liked" a Facebook posting 4.5 billion times a day and uploaded an average of 350 million pictures a day.

Family squabble leads to "Facebook firing," and to dismissal of plaintiff's case.

The line of “Facebook firing” cases is growing longer every month. In October, the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld summary judgment in an unpublished opinion in which an individual claimed gender discrimination after he was fired from his job as a daycare center worker. According to the employer, the firing was based on a Facebook posting that included profanity and strong language, which certain individuals found to have been threatening. Smizer v. Community Mennonite Early Learning Center, 7th Cir., No. 10-C-304 (October 25, 2013). The unusual twist in this case is that the plaintiff was the son of the defendant daycare center’s Director, and the Facebook posting dealt with a family custody matter.

No Hall Pass for School Officials in School Texting Scandal

So, let’s take a look at some of the facts. The Coatesville, Pa., School District Superintendent Richard Como and Coatsville Area High School Athletic Director Jim Donato recently resigned following the disclosure of their inflammatory texting conversation.

Thumbs down: Using Facebook info can be tricky

Nexsen Pruet employment and labor law attorney John Cole discusses why businesses need to use caution when utilizing Facebook as a hiring resource.

Termination for Facebook posting does not violate state invasion of privacy law.

Recent court decisions related to employees’ online postings have centered on whether disciplinary decisions regarding those postings may violate the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The NLRA protects certain employee “concerted activities” aimed at discussing or improving working conditions, and precludes interference with such communications, including online messages. However, individuals also have brought other legal causes of action against employers for so-called “Facebook firings.” Recently, a Texas appeals court was asked to determine whether the firing of an employee on the basis of her Facebook comment violated that employee’s state law privacy rights. The court held that it did not. Roberts v. CareFlite, Texas Court of Appeal 2d District, No. 02-12-00105-cv, Oct. 4, 2012.

Employers Must ‘Walk a Fine Line' Using Social Media in Employment Decisions

Social media can be both a blessing and a curse. This modern-day innovation has opened up the lines of communication like never before. Despite the perks of social media, some may be experiencing nostalgia for the good ole days, for the days when it was easier to keep their private lives to themselves.

Professor Claims Free Speech Rights Violated Over Facebook Post

A Purdue University professor of political science has sued the university and other professors over sanctions he received following an investigation into complaints about comments the professor made on Facebook, as well as in classroom lectures.

A Supervisor's Guide to Social Media, Part One

Over the past couple of years, we have seen hundreds of articles extolling the virtues and benefits of "social media" for every kind of business. We're told that Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter and other electronic resources will help our businesses reach more potential customers, improve the public's impression of the business, bond existing customers to the company, and improve overall customer satisfaction.

Employer Practice of Requesting Social Media Access May Be in Jeopardy

On March 29, the Illinois House of Representatives passed House Bill 3782, which if passed by the State Senate, will make it unlawful for employers to request employees or prospective employees to provide their social media passwords or account access information. The proposed legislation applies to both public and private employers doing business in Illinois, and would amend the Illinois Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act.

She Said WHAT About Me?

One of your sales managers steps into your office and closes the door. "Boss, you're not going to believe what Mary, that new sales person, has said about you on her Facebook page." She posted:

Social Networking Policies For School Employees

In our April 2011 issue, we discussed strategies for schools to limit their exposure to liability stemming from employees' off-campus interactions with students. School employees' participation in online social networking, such as Facebook and Twitter, presents many of the same perils, but merits its own discussion because of the unique aspects of online interactions. Recognizing that faculty and staff likely are using social media at an increasing pace, schools should formulate and communicate policies for staff online social media interactions with students and parents.

The Social At-Work

It was recently announced that more people use Facebook for networking than those who use the search engine Google. This is not too surprising given the fact that almost everyone seems to have an account with a social networking site, using them to electronically meet and interact with anyone and everyone.

Daily Journal column: Liability concerns for employers in a wired world

There has been a lot of coverage recently about employee access to and use of social networking sites while at work and outside of the workplace. In fact, at a recent International Association of Defense Counsel Meeting, several presenters discussed the potential uses and abuses of social media by employees. However, the reverse scenario — employees using their computers or wireless communication devices while at home to do office work — deserves equal, if not more, attention.

Drafting A Social-Media Policy That Protects Your Business

Almost every business today relies on the Internet to help improve its operations. Social networking sites are playing an increasingly important role in how companies communicate with their customers and other interested parties. Social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are rapidly gaining new users.

Social Networking in the Retail World.

Employer interest in social networking and blogging first came to the headlines when a flight attendant was fired purportedly for posting information about her job on a blog. Since that time, social media has exploded with the rise of Facebook and the advent of YouTube. While the Oxford English Dictionary has not yet recognized "tweet" as a verb meaning to post 140-character messages on Twitter, it must be coming.

When Can Employers Be Liable For Employees' Online Conduct?

The federal government recently enacted new guidelines that could cause employers to face legal liability for the online conduct of their employees. Under new Federal Trade Commission guidelines employers could face enforcement actions should their employees use social media to comment on their company's products or services in inappropriate ways, even if the employer did not sanction or authorize the comments. Whether employees use personal blogs, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, message boards, or any other type of online social networking platform, employers could face the wrath of the federal government or the prospect of class action lawsuits if online postings run afoul of the new guidance.

Texting On The Job Can Be Costly.

A recent decision by the Supreme Court in a case called City of Ontario v. Quon should be viewed as a warning in big capital letters to workers everywhere. The Supreme Court ruled that a public employer did not violate an employee's Fourth Amendment rights when it searched an employee's text messages. This decision should not really surprise anyone: When employees use company-issued equipment on company time, they should not expect their communications to be private. Nevertheless, many employees fail to heed this modern workplace reality.

No Need For Panic: 10 Tips To Prevent Employee Issues With Social Media.

With a half-billon users, Facebook has expanded its reach from college dormitories to the workplace, and your company likely employs at least one (or more likely several) users of social media. It's not just your recent graduates or interns that are posting photos, status updates, joining groups, and connecting with old classmates via social media. As of January 2010, 60 percent of Facebook users were over the age of 25. LinkedIn, a social media site dedicated to professional networking, has over 60 million users of all ages who are posting resumes, professional awards and recommendations from former coworkers or supervisors.

The New Internet Danger: Employers Can Be Liable For Employees' Online Conduct.

The federal government recently enacted new guidelines that can impose liability on employers for the online conduct of their employees. Under Federal Trade Commission guidelines that took effect Dec. 1, employers could face enforcement actions should their employees use social media to comment on their company's products or services in inappropriate ways, even if the employer did not authorize the comments.

Court "Deletes" Computer Misuse Claim.

A federal appellate court has held that a former employee of a residential treatment facility did not violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) when he emailed files to his personal account, downloaded the files and used them in his own business. According to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the employer did not have a confidentiality rule with respect to email.

Ignorance of Blog Law No Excuse.

Blogs are booming. Employees are now using these Internet diaries to broadcast information and opinions worldwide. Inevitably, some of those employees will post hostile, false, or confidential information about their employers and fellow employees.

6 Ways to Safeguard Company Data.

According to a recent survey, information you believe is confidential may also be in your competitor's offices. A report from the Ponemon Institute details that companies are doing a poor job preventing former employees from stealing data. Some details from the report should give every employer cause for concern, particularly in this time of sharp staff reductions.

Avoiding Social-Networking Snafus.

On September 15, 2009, Facebook announced that it served 300 million users worldwide. By comparison, on October 1, 2009, the United States Census Bureau's website indicated that the population of the United States was approximately 307.5 million.

Worker Fired For Violating Computer Policy Gets No Sympathy.

A federal appellate court recently rejected a lawsuit brought by a worker who was fired after his employer discovered that his password was used to access pornographic websites from a shared workplace computer. Finding that the trial judge correctly determined that the worker had failed to establish a genuine issue of material fact that would call into question his employer's legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the discharge, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the worker's age discrimination claim.

Drafting An Effective Social-Media Policy.

From Facebook to LinkedIn to Twitter, it seems that internet-based communications are everywhere. Some argue that Web 2.0 technologies, such as blogging, micro-blogging, photo-sharing, video-sharing, life-casting and networking, help companies meet their customers' needs and that social media supports the democratization of knowledge, news and even professional sports. But there are risks associated with employee social media use; risks that you can manage with a clearly defined policy regarding media use.

Cyber Policies: Social Networking Sites Could Jeopardize Employment (pdf).

Unlike Vegas, what happens in cyberspace doesn't always stay in cyberspace.
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