Recently in Social Media and the Workplace Category

December 13, 2012

If your employee did THIS on Facebook, what would you do?


I did one of these posts a few weeks ago, where I wrote about employees getting sacked for a Facebook post and then offered you -- the employment lawyers and HR pros -- the opportunity to second-guess the termination decision. 

Giving y'all the chance to weigh in nearly crashed my servers. So, let's try it again with a new set of facts. But, be easy on my hardware.

Rhonda Lee is a meteorologist for KTBS-TV. Oh, did I say "is"? I meant "was". She was fired based on two exchanges that occurred on the station's Facebook page:

[Click on the first one if you have difficulty reading it; it links to a larger version]


* * *


* * *

KTBS News Director Randy Bain released a statement that said, "If harsh viewer comments are posted on the station's official website, there is a specific procedure to follow. Ms. Rhonda Lee was let go for repeatedly violating that procedure after being warned multiple times of the consequences if her behavior continued."

Now that you've read the posts, the policy, and the company's position, put on your HR/lawyer hats, and go back in time to before KTBS-TV decided to terminate Ms. Lee. Tell me in the comments below how you would advise the station to proceed.

December 10, 2012

HO HO NO! Facebook comments get Santa Claus fired...twice!

Original Bad Santa kicks arse

With the National Hockey League season in jeopardy, I imagine that Canadians are a fairly ornery bunch these days.

Even further north, hockey fans too are in turmoil. Reports from the North Pole have Mrs. Claus moping around. Morale amongst Santa's helpers is at an all-time low, causing toy production to drop 20%. And the elf of the shelf just flipped me the bird.

But it appears that no one is taking it harder than jolly old Saint Nick. 

According to this report from Shawn Jeffords at the Toronto Sun, last week, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman dressed up as a mall Santa at a Toronto Christmas Market told a three-year-old waiting in line to sit on his lap that the Toronto Maple Leafs "suck."

The boy's mother than took to Facebook and put Kris Kringle on full blast:

Then he said, 'Oh, you're wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs tuque, you shouldn't be wearing that, they suck.' At that point, I took my son and told him we should go, Santa isn't being very good today.

The event organizers apologized, via Facebook, and then promptly terminated Santa's employment. 

But, folks, let me tell you. Santa is resilient. He dusted off his resumé, checked the online job boards, and quickly found new employment at a mall in Portland, Maine.

That is until, as The Daily Dot (via reports here, a mom complained on the mall's Facebook page after Santa allegedly refused to let her six-year-old daughter sit on his lap because she didn't purchase a picture package. Here's a video of mom and daughter sharing this scrooge story. Now, Santa is once again out of a job.

And, rumor has it, he may be filing a national-origin-discrimination Charge with the EEOC.

December 6, 2012

HR'S 2012 performance review #nextchat


Yesterday, I spent a fun hour hanging out on Twitter with the folks from SHRM's We Know Next discussing 2012's HR victories and, then, what lies ahead for you good folks in 2013. 

A big thank you to SHRM and to those who were able to join us and participate. ICYMI, after the jump is a full recap of all the action along with the top song on the Billboard pop charts.

* * *

Continue reading "HR'S 2012 performance review #nextchat" »

December 5, 2012

I can't believe you missed these workplace blockbusters, you guys!


Translation: Recent HR / employment law developments that Meyer missed a/k/a Meyer needs to clear out his folder of bookmarked employment-law items to make room for his dork dorkier Fantasy Baseball bookmarks. Pitchers and catchers report in just over two months.

  1. More courts weigh in on social-media discovery issues. "Good news. My doctor says that the itching and redness should subside in a few days." Recent court decisions (here and here) roadmap how you can access this and other Facebook status updates from your former employee who is now suing you. Have fun with that.

  2. Other social-media-related litigation. A firefighter, allegedly terminated for critical Facebook comments, has settled his wrongful discharge claim (here). Facebook posts doom another employee's FMLA claims (here). The National Labor Relations Board crapped all over another employer's social-media policy (here). Choking back laughter (at least that's how I envision it), a Massachusetts Court denied another (the first ever?) hair salon's claim that a former stylist's job posting on Facebook violated a non-solicitation agreement agreement (here).

  3. New study released on how companies are addressing employee social media use. Hey, as long as no one cuts me off from The Superficial, it's all good. Wait, that's not in the Proskauer report (here), is it?

  4. And in non-social-media-related news, the EEOC releases its Performance and Accountability Report. You can either spend hours reading it (here), or, like me, just use Stephanie Thomas's killer infographic (here). Stephanie - You need to show me how to make those things! Love it!

  5. Got questions about ADA confidentiality (who doesn't)? The Seventh Circuit has answers (here). 

Image credit:, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

November 26, 2012

If your employees did THIS on Facebook, what would you do?

facebutton.pngbone·head [bohn-hed]

  1. a foolish or stupid person; blockhead.
  2. This moron!

On a business trip, two employees visited the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery, where one snapped that photo of the other. Then, the photographed employee posted the picture on her Facebook page.

Let's assume these knuckleheads work at your company. You, the Human Resources Manager, learn about the photograph and the surrounding circumstances. How do you handle the situation?

Please let me know in the comments below.

P.S. - Here is how the employer responded, and how the employee dealt with the backlash from the picture.

November 16, 2012

Confession & Profession: When a co-worker overshares...

Do you call HR when someone says something you don't like? What about if they confess a secret? What if you over hear something that wasn't meant for your ears? 

And what should HR do about it?

Last night, labor-and-employment-law attorney Daniel Schwartz, who blogs at the Connecticut Employment Law Blog, Liz Ryan, founder and CEO of Human Workplace, and I joined The Huffington Post's Nancy Redd on HuffPost Live answering these and other related HR/workplace questions. 

The video is embedded below (or you can view it here).

November 15, 2012

Social Media SHOW (and Tell)

On Tuesday night, I was in Las Vegas.



Actually, I had the pleasure of participating in a Google+ Hangout for an interactive Q&A on social media topics that took place in Last Vegas from #KronosWorks12. Along with NPR's Lars Schmidt, Jonathan Brewer, Director of Awesome -- yes, that is his title -- for B2C Revolutions, and Master of Ceremonies, Curtis Midkiff, SHRM's amazing Director of Social Engagement, we discussed some of the hot topics in social media and HR, including social media policy, social recruiting, employee engagement, cool tools and more!

I embedded the video below. Or you can watch the replay by clicking here.

November 12, 2012

Obama's re-election evokes ugly Facebook-racism from some employees

Stamp Out Racism, August 2010To all the haters of social-media policies:

If nothing less, the social-media policy reminds employees that if they act the fool online, it may impact their standing in the workplace, and, ultimately, cost them their jobs.

Some employees, however, are just so ignorant. Thus, I doubt that any employer policy will impact how they behave online.

Two despicable examples from this past week follow after the jump...

* * *

Continue reading "Obama's re-election evokes ugly Facebook-racism from some employees" »

November 6, 2012

2 tips to help your social media policy withstand NLRB scrutiny

policyhighlight.jpgNotwithstanding three social media advice memoranda, and another ruling from the National Labor Relations Board slamming Costco's social media policy, you'd think employers would have a better idea how to revise their social media policies so as not to risk violating the National Labor Relations Act.

Well, not so much.

Except, the Board has recently issued guidance which attempts to clarify certain policy issues for employers. Does it? Well, sort of. It's worth a read. Click through...

* * *

Continue reading "2 tips to help your social media policy withstand NLRB scrutiny" »

October 22, 2012

Employee's Twitter hatin' costs him unemployment benefits

TwitterLogo.jpgAn employee getting fired for caustic social-media posts is so 2011. Having an application for unemployment-compensation benefits denied because of Twitter stupidity -- that's the new black.

Details of a recent Commonwealth of Pennsylvania decision -- don't tread on me, Idaho -- after the jump...

* * *

Continue reading "Employee's Twitter hatin' costs him unemployment benefits" »

October 16, 2012

Everything's bigger in Texas. Even the Facebook stupidity.

A Texas court held earlier this month that an employer lawfully fired a paramedic who posted on the Facebook page of a co-worker that she wanted to slap a patient.

But, the plaintiff's rant isn't the worst of it.

facebookbackground.jpgWhen warned by a co-worker that the plaintiff's Facebook post was accessible by the general public, the plaintiff responded -- publicly on Facebook:

Yeah, whatever. YOU weren't there. Whenever I have to have a firefighter ride in with me because of a patient's attitude, and I fear for MY safety, I truly believe a patient needs an attitude adjustment. Think about that the next time YOU correct someone!!

As you can imagine, once the company got wind of this, it fired the plaintiff for being "unprofessional and insubordinate." Subsequently, the plaintiff sued for invasion of privacy.

Invasion of privacy?!? For accessing Facebook posts. That were public. That the plaintiff was told were public. That the plaintiff acknowledged were public. Plaintiff loses. (Decision here)

Did I mention that the Texas court that decided the case was an appellate court? The plaintiff frigging appealed her initial defeat -- one that previously blogged about here.

And y'all wonder why our legal system sometimes gets a bad rap. Oy!

October 10, 2012

Does the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act cover lost LinkedIn business opportunities?

powered by Fotopedia

In the beginning of the year, I wrote here about a federal-court decision, which recognized that LinkedIn connections are not company trade secrets. Earlier this month, that same court, in the same case, was asked to decide whether hijacking an employee's LinkedIn account may violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).

In Eagle v. Morgan, the plaintiff, Dr. Eagle, claimed that her former employer had locked her out of her LinkedIn account for 22 weeks. Thus she was "unable to receive 'invitations to connect, business opportunities and ongoing communications with clients, potential clients and other business and personal contacts.'"

Sounds fairly vague to me. Besides, they have this thing called the telephone...

Anyway, the Court put the kibosh on Dr. Eagle's CFAA claim. It recognized that the CFAA permits a plaintiff to recover for loss related to the impairment or damage to a computer or computer system. However, a "loss" does not extend to potential business opportunities, especially speculative ones -- like the kind that may develop from connecting on LinkedIn.

How could all of this have been avoided? By better defining at the outset -- during the employment relationship -- whether Dr. Eagle's LinkedIn account belonged to Dr. Eagle or the company. With respect to issues involving ownership of social media accounts, I'll repeat three tips from a post earlier this year:

  1. Start with a written social-media-specific agreement. This document should clearly set out the rights and expectations of the company and its employee. Also, include social-media language in your other broader-based non-disclosure agreements.
  2. The company should create/register the account. This will indicate that the company has some ownership stake in the account. (Easy, folks. I'm not suggesting that companies should set up personal employee social-media accounts for them -- only those accounts in which the company seeks to maintain an ownership interest). Also, be sure to consider the terms of use that any social-media company has in place for end users.
  3. Change the password when employees leave. Make sure that you know the account password at all times and immediately change it when employees leave your company. That will reduce the risk that your former employee will act first and lock you out.
October 2, 2012

In its first Facebook-firing decison, the NLRB backs an employer

All Saints church - flying pig - - 1692162Look out for that flying pig!!!

No, it's true. I've got proof after the jump...

* * *

Continue reading "In its first Facebook-firing decison, the NLRB backs an employer" »

October 1, 2012

CA enacts workplace social media protections; NJ gets closer

Thumbnail image for facebookprivacy.jpgLast week, CA became the third state to pass a law that bans employers from requesting online usernames and passwords from employees and job candidates. Maryland was the first state to pass such a law; Illinois was the second.

As in the other two states, not only is it illegal to request online information, but also CA employers may not retaliate against anyone who refuses to turn it over.

There are two carve-outs in the CA law to protect legitimate employer interests. An employer may:

  1. require an employee to divulge personal social media reasonably believed to be relevant to an investigation of allegations of employee misconduct or employee violation of applicable laws and regulations; or

  2. require or request an employee to disclose a username, password, or other method for the purpose of accessing an employer-issued electronic device.

Meanwhile, in NJ, the Senate Labor Committee voted 4-0-1 in favor of a similar bill. Under the proposed NJ legislation, the aggrieved party may seek injunctive relief, compensatory damages, counsel fees and court costs. According to (here), the 1 absention came from a Republican Senator who wishes to amend the bill by removing that private cause of action.

That legislation now goes to Governor Christie for signature.

September 20, 2012

NLRB's 1st social media ruling: Slams Costco policy; greenlights defamation

candycorn.jpegIt's been a while since I've addressed social media policies and the National Labor Relations Act on this blog. Longer than Kim K's marriage to what's his name? Indeed. Methinks things at the National Labor Relations Board have been quiet lately. Maybe a little too quiet.

And then...! [Cue music]

Earlier this month, for the first...time...evah, the NLRB weighed in on the validity of an employer's social media policy.

I know. I know. Sit down, catch your breath. This is big stuff! Big stuff!!! Mmmm...double stuf. And speaking of Oreos, have you seen these bad-boys? Who wants to send me a package for Halloween?

Wait! What were we talking about again? Was it fantasy football? Should I start Martellus Bennett tonight? 

No, it was NLRB. Dang! What did the NLRB decide about social media policies? WHAT OF SOCIAL MEDIA POLICIES!?!? I won't keep you in suspense any longer. Hit the jump and find out!

* * *

Continue reading "NLRB's 1st social media ruling: Slams Costco policy; greenlights defamation" »