Minimizing HR Risk In A Social Media World

Social media – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and many more – are increasingly dominating the internet and entering the workplace. Social media add both complexity to existing HR issues and create new risks to be managed. These new challenges can extend far beyond the workplace and management’s direct control. Even in the workplace, employees have independent real-time access to social media through smartphones. Simply continuing existing policies and practices is wholly inadequate in this brave new world.

The following are examples of the varied kinds of legal risk to a company from misuse of social media by employees and management:

  • Discrimination – a manager chooses not to hire an applicant after checking his Facebook page, which makes clear he is a Muslim.
  • Harassment – one employee posts threatening messages on another’s Facebook wall or makes offensive comments on the company’s Facebook page.
  • Invasion of privacy – the employer disciplines the employee for his off-duty Facebook posts which it considers inconsistent with the employer’s public image.
  • Unfair labor practice – an employee is disciplined after complaining on Facebook about perceived unsafe or illegal workplace practices.
  • Retaliation or whistleblower claims – the employer disciplines an employee after the employee’s posts to her blog complaints about perceived violations of environmental regulations by the employer.
  • Trade secrets – an employee or manager intentionally or unintentionally discloses confidential information in his personal Twitter feed.
  • False advertising – an employee posts rave reviews of the employer on Yelp without revealing that she is an employee.

This article will highlight critical risks and suggest best practices for managing them.

I. RISK HOT SPOTS

These are some areas in which employers should be particularly sensitive to the potential consequences of their actions. More…

–James Parton III

For questions or more information about this topic, please contact Jim Parton at jparton@partonsell.com

Social media – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and many more – are increasingly dominating the internet and entering the workplace. Social media add both complexity to existing HR issues and create new risks to be managed. These new challenges can extend far beyond the workplace and management’s direct control. Even in the workplace, employees have independent […]