Employee Use and Misuse of Social Networking Tools: How Exposed Is Your Business?
Computers, the Internet, and mobile communication devices are radically changing the workplace. Electronic information and new communication tools now permeate every aspect of the employer/employee relationship, from hiring to on-the-job performance to termination. The unprecedent level of information available about each prospective hire or employee can assist your business in making smart decisions, but it can also cause unexpected problems and significant legal liability.
Here are just a few of the employee/social networking issues that your human resources department or company management should be considering on a regular basis:
- Does your company have clear acceptable use policies for electronic communications and Internet activity, and are those policies updated regularly to reflect technological innovations?
- Does your company discuss its AUP with new employees, and are updates regularly discussed with existing employees?
- Does your company have a written policy regarding the use of social media and online resources during the hiring process, to avoid possible liability under privacy laws, the Civil Rights Act, or the Americans with Disabilities Act?
- Are there any limits on the use of public records gathered by online companies?
- Can you demand an applicant's social networking passwords as part of the employment process?
- Can you demand an employee's social networking passwords to see if they are bad-mouthing the company, their supervisors, or both?
- How much electronic surveillance can you conduct in the interests of productivity, protecting trade secrets, preventing sexual harassment, etc.?
- Are employees protected by the First Amendment if they say something online that their supervisor finds politically, religiously, or morally offensive?
Can employers review text messages sent on devices paid for by the company?
Can employers search personal smartphones for possible evidence of intellectual property theft?
- Are there any limits on how a company can use online activity can be used to terminate someone's employment?
- What steps, if any, can a company take to protect itself from online attacks after an employee is fired?
- What is your company's policy for blocking a fired employee's access to the company Facebook page or Twitter feed? Just how quickly can you shut him or her down?
Informative, Entertaining Seminars and Professional Consultation
If your company management or HR department is looking for a value-packed, entertaining seminar/lecture on the business and legal risks of social networking, or needs cost-effective consulting on policies, procedures, and educational materials for staff and employees, please call 802-318-4604. I will be happy to design a program that is specifically tailored to your company, your industry, your region, and any electronic/social networking issues your company might be facing. Thanks for your interest, and I look forward to working with you.
Employee Misbehavior and Workplace Privacy Issues in the News
The following headlines are drawn from my database of articles and press releases dealing with the issues that I wrote about in The Naked Employee. The headlines are links to the full article on the originating web site; due to copyright concerns, the full texts of these press releases and articles are not available on this site.
Please note that some articles may no longer be available on their original site, and others may require site log-in or registration to view.