Moorestown New Jersey Employment Law Attorney
An important client calls you on the phone and demands a new account manager to handle his account. You reassure him his account manager is one of the best but to no avail – he wants a new account manager – immediately. After talking to your client, you learn he’s surreptitiously discovered a negative tweet written by the account manager in question about the client’s product. What do you do?
Suppose the scenario is a bit different and what your client is upset about is a blog he’s discovered his account manager writes for a controversial political action group. Can you demand that your employee stop writing the blog?
Now, imagine you’re in the process of hiring a new Marketing Director, Shelly. It’s the last round of interviews and everything looks good. Someone in your HR department suggests “Googling” Shelly just to see what comes up. Should you go ahead and Google her? Let’s supposed you go ahead and Google Shelly only to find an article a few years old about a marathon for raising money for multiple sclerosis. In the article, Shelly is interviewed as one of the participants. She tells the reporter she decided to participate in the marathon after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis a month ago. You now have information the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) forbids you from asking about during the interview process. What should you do?
Social Media – A Minefield for Lawsuits and Legal Problems
To some extent, the capabilities and uses of social media have developed faster than the legal and ethical concepts we have at our disposal to address the issues raised by them. That means social media is a potential minefield for legal problems and issues. And, while case law is slowly beginning to emerge , by no means are precedents set in stone. Consequently, if you own a business it’s essential that you articulate a clear, legally sound social media policy in your employee handbook and training materials.
In this regard, employers need to inform employees what is expected of them in regard to the following:
- Use of company computers and cell phones
- What is an acceptable or unacceptable use of the company name on Twitter, Facebook, or MySpace accounts
- When disciplinary action will be taken in regard to postings on blogs, Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter accounts
- Whether the practice of “Googling” is accepted during the interview process
- If Googling prospective employees is acceptable, what sorts of information can and cannot be passed along to hiring managers (this is especially important when information gathered effectively circumvents aspects of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the ADA, or FMLA).
Social Media and the Importance of Employee Handbooks
To date, the courts have not treated employee handbooks like contracts. However, the courts tend to hold employers accountable for what their handbooks say – and don’t say – in regard to policies and procedures, particularly as they pertain to employee behavior, use of company equipment, and codes of conduct. As a result, if your HR department fails to clearly articulate a social media policy and you fire an employee for something said on social media, you may be legally liable in ways you never imagined. Similarly, if you make hiring decisions in part on what you find out about a job candidate using social media, you could set yourself up for a lawsuit as well.
Stay ahead of the curve – contact Moorestown, New Jersey employment law attorneys/ at LaVan Law today to learn more about how we can help you and your company avoid the legal minefield of social media.