Recently in Social Media and the Workplace Category

September 11, 2012

Court grants access to plaintiff's social media in discrimination case

lockandkey.jpgMany times on this blog (e.g., here, here, and here), I've discussed the discovery of a plaintiff's social media information in pending litigation. More often than not, these issues arise in personal injury actions where the defendant believes that the plaintiff's injury isn't as a severe as he claims it to be. So, it seeks access to plaintiff's Facebook information where it believes it will find pictures of the plaintiff boozing or frolicking or what-have-you.

Although less common in employment discrimination cases, from time-to-time, social media discovery issues do crop up. I'll discuss a new one decided late last month and offer some related tips for employers after the jump...

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September 10, 2012

POLL: Your employees post THIS YouTube video. What do you do?

Over the weekend, I heard PSY's catchy song Gangnam Style for the first time. Coincidentally, I then read this story from Kathleen Miles on the Huffington Post about 14 Gen-Y lifeguards at a city pool in El Monte, CA, who posted this video (below, left) on YouTube spoofing the original "Gangnam Style" music video (below, right).

In response, the City fired the 14 lifeguards for using City property, including the pool and their uniforms, for private use. Sure, the City was within its rights to fire these employees. But, was that the ideal response?

Let's pretend that you are the decisionmaker for El Monte, CA. What would you do? Let me know in the comments below.

September 5, 2012

Ethics charges for two lawyers over Facebook friending a litigant

facebutton.pngIt was bound to happen sooner or later...

Mary Pat Gallagher of the the NJ Law Journal reports here (subscription required) that two NJ defense lawyers face ethics charges after their paralegal allegedly friended an attorney-represented plaintiff in a personal injury case.

Details on the allegations and some takeaways for both lawyers and HR professionals after the jump...

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August 7, 2012

Facebooking about "naked Twister" may doom one's sexual harassment claims

TwisterAnd some of you wonder why I enjoy blogging about HR and employment law.

More after the jump...

(What I won't do for my loyal readers....)

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August 2, 2012

Snoop Dog becomes Snoop Lion! And news of a new employee Facebook law

Snoop DogCalvin Broadus a/k/a Snoop Dogg is now the artist formerly known as Snoop Dogg. During a recent trip to Jamaica, Snoop was apparently *** afraid to add snarky strikethrough for fear of losing job ***  "born again" and is now Snoop Lion. 

But in even BIGGER news --

Drop it like it's hot!

Yesterday, Illinois became the second state, after Maryland, to make it unlawful for any employer to request or require any employee or prospective employee to provide any password or other related account information to gain access to an online account. 

Fo' shizzle!

Under Illinois' "Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act," it is now also unlawful for an employer to require that an employee or prospective employee log into their online account so that the employer may gain access.

*** Searches for other Snoopisms -- finds nothing blog-appropriate ***

The Act does have a few carve-outs for employers. Employers may still maintain lawful workplace policies governing the use of the employer's electronic equipment, including policies regarding Internet use, social networking site use, and electronic mail use. And if employers want to monitor usage of the employer's electronic equipment and the employer's electronic mail without requesting passwords, then by all means.

No word from Snoop Lion if he approves of Illinois' new law. But, like you, he is welcome to sound off in the comments below.

*** Sets blog-comments-spam-filter to "volcano" ***

July 16, 2012

Breaking stupid: A hella-dumb Facebook invasion-of-privacy claim

texasflag.jpgFrom the state that just loves our sloppy seconds -- out-of-work wide receiver who cries about a fumbling quarterback say, "What. It's unfair. That's my quarterback." -- comes this case about a Facebooking emergency medical technician from Texas. 

To protect the innocent -- in the event that you've yet to click on the case link -- we'll call the employee-plaintiff "Misguided." Misguided the EMT was fired after posting on his co-worker's Facebook wall about how he wanted to boot a ultimate fighter patient in the head. 

Instead of just swallowing the bitter pill, Misguided sued his former employer for -- get this -- intrusion upon seclusion. (basically, an invasion of privacy).

Invasion of privacy on a co-worker's Facebook page. And people wonder how I get material for this blog. 

Feel me flow on this steaming pile after the jump...

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July 13, 2012

TIP: Remind your employees to update Facebook privacy settings

knowwhatyouaredoing.pngA website called WeKnowWhatYoureDoing.com, which describes itself as a "social networking privacy experiment," has begun compiling publicly available Facebook status updates from your employees, which fall into one of four categories:

    1. "Who wants to get fired?"
    2. "Who's hungover"
    3. "Who's taking drugs"
    4. "Who's got a new phone number?"

Although the content may be crude, the site's mission is noble -- to educate social networkers about Facebook privacy controls:

Just make sure your Facebook privacy settings are sufficient, for example don't publish status updates containing potentially risky material as 'Public'...The problem is how people simply don't understand the risks of sharing everything.

Thus, without even realizing it, your employees may be broadcasting their hatred of you or their affinity for puffing the magic dragon [cue music], neither of which bodes well for your company.

Use this blog post as a reminder to mention in your social media policies and training sessions that social networking sites like Facebook have privacy settings. And while these settings may change from time-to-time, getting your employees keyed in to the idea of setting privacy controls is a good first step.

(h/t Phil Miles @ LawfficeSpace.com)

July 3, 2012

PA bill will protect privacy of employee social media passwords

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On June 18, 2012, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives introduced the Social Media Privacy Protection Act, which would protect the privacy of employee online user names and passwords.

A summary of the bill, and what this could mean for PA employers, follows after the jump...

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June 29, 2012

Healthcare, what? Eyeball 3 other pending employment law bills

ThreeI heard that there was some Supreme Court decision yesterday about healthcare. Want the scoop? Google it.

They zig, I'll zag with the scoop on some other pending employment-law legislation of which employers should take note...after the jump...

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June 21, 2012

Going to #SHRM12 in Atlanta? You know I'll be there.

shrmlogo.jpgLess than one week to go before the 2012 SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition kicks off. I'll be there. And here's where we can meet up:

Monday night you can find me discussing cutting-edge HR/employment-law issues at The Official #SHRM12 TweetUp & Afterparty powered by SHRM & Glassdoor. And if you believe that, I'll let you buy the first round. I prefer Johnny Blue and Cristal boilermakers. Cuz I'm a baller.

At 10 AM on Tuesday, I'll be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for Live from the HIVE, Social Media Policy 101, for a Q&A with my buddy Curtis Midkiff. I'll hang out afterwards to discuss any questions you may have. Those who bring me Red Bull Sugar Free will get their questions answered first. Unless, of course, you have cash.

But, if you can't make it down to Atlanta for the event, there are many ways for you to still participate. You can join the #SHRM12 Social Circle, follow the #SHRM12 hashtag on Twitter, follow me on Twitter (@Eric_B_Meyer), or visit the SHRM Annual Buzz site.

Hey, I'd love to meet you. Unless, of course, you have leprosy. Keep your distance. Eh, maybe we can work out some sort of reasonable accommodation.

Oh, I kid. I just wanted an excuse to play this song.

Throw 'em up! See you in Atlanta.

June 8, 2012

The teacher who blogged about her "dunderhead" students is back!

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And she's making news again...

It's been nine long months since I blogged about a favorite of The Employer Handbook: Natalie Munroe. You can read about her here, here, here, and here.

She is the PA teacher who, on her blog, described her students as argumentative f*cks who may engage in Columbine-style shootings. She got  suspended, but was later reinstated, and taught during this school year.

Well, it appears now that Ms. Munroe may not be teaching for much longer -- at least not for her present employer. Christina Kristofic of The Intelligencer reports here that the school board could vote before the end of this month to fire Ms. Munroe. Her lawyer (remember, he's my stepbrother), however, smells a rat. He claims that the district is violating Munroe's constitutional free speech rights. Whether that holds true remains to be seen...

What continues to amaze me is the polarizing response to Ms. Munroe. Scroll to the bottom of Ms. Kristofic's story and click on "Phillyburbs Comments". You'll see responses ranging from: "She deserves to be fired. She has no features that make her a good teacher. Her 'entitled attitude' is written all of her smug face. The free ride is over..." to "Instead of attacking a truthful educator, why not decipline [sic] the kids as they should be. The parents are clearly at fault in this case."

Is it ok for a teacher to be this critical of her students online? What if it were your employee going off on your customers? What do you think? Sound off in the comments below...

June 7, 2012

Do employees have protected privacy rights in Facebook postings?

Spy vs Sci 558John and Mary are co-workers. They are also Facebook friends. And both John and Mary have adjusted their respective Facebook privacy settings such that only Facebook friends can view what they post online from their individual accounts. Consequently, John and Mary can view each other's Facebook posts, but Sam the Supervisor, who is also on Facebook, cannot. Neither John nor Mary are Facebook friends with Sam.

ABC Company, John and Mary's employer, wants access to Mary's Facebook account. On behalf of ABC, Sam demands that John login to his Facebook account on a work computer and then allow Sam to shoulder surf as John views Mary's Facebook postings. Fearing for his job, John relents.

Does Mary have a claim against ABC Company for invasion of privacy?

The answer follows after the jump...

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May 31, 2012

Want a labor-law-legal social media policy? Bookmark this, I guess.

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Yesterday, the National Labor Relations Board's Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon issued a new report on social media cases brought to the agency, this time focusing exclusively on policies governing the use of social media by employees. It includes a copy of a social media policy that the NLRB found to be lawful.

However, the report, as a whole, left me shaking my head. Inconsistent, overreaching, it's a hot tepid mess. So, before you go all cut and paste on me from that sample policy, read my critical two cents after the jump...

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May 14, 2012

U.S. Senate now has its own FB password bill; NJ nears similar ban

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Well, that didn't take long.

Late last month, I reported on a bill that had been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, known as the Social Networking Online Protection Act (SNOPA), that would prohibit employers, schools, and universities from requiring someone to provide a username, password or other access to online content.

Now, it's the U.S. Senate's turn to get in on the act with its own password bill. Plus, after the jump, I'll have an update on similar legislation winding its way to Governor Christie in New Jersey...

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May 11, 2012

A Facebook firing? An employer in hot water? Ya don't say...

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Yesterday, I gave my social media in the workplace spiel to a great crowd in Hershey, PA, at the Banyan Consulting 12th Annual Conference. Not surprisingly, the majority of questions posed involved the attention that the National Labor Relations Board has paid to social-media-related employee discipline. And that reminded me that a case I discussed earlier this week, the one involving overly-broad handbooks policies that restricted employee discussions of wages, had a second component worth discussing; namely, an unlawful Facebook firing. More after the jump...

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