Recently in Social Media and the Workplace Category

November 26, 2012

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

facebutton.pngbone┬Ěhead [bohn-hed]
noun

  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.

Kinda.

Sorta.

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...

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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...

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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...

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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?

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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 - geograph.org.uk - 1692162Look out for that flying pig!!!

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

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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 Law.com (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...

Click..click...BOOM! [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!

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

September 14, 2012

Yo, Boss! Did you say "Spacebook" and "Tweeter"?

spacebook.jpgPenn State Kicker Sam Ficken probably had a pretty bad week. Last Saturday, he missed one extra point and four field goals in Penn State's 17-16 loss to Virginia. After the game, he was deluged with online insults.

Thankfully, his coach, Bill O'Brien, came to his defense.

Obviously, I think it's absolutely ridiculous. Not just because it's a 19-year-old college kid. It's just because, I mean, it's anonymous in some ways, and in other ways it's not. But at the end of the day, you know, these guys are really playing hard, giving great effort for us," O'Brien said. "To go on whatever, Spacebook [sic] or Tweeter [sic], or whatever [and] put stuff on there is just absolutely ridiculous to me and very cowardly, to be honest with you. But that's just my opinion . . . I don't know what type of people do that.

It's refreshing to see one's boss (so to speak) go to bat like this. However, it looks like someone could use a little Social Media 101.


(h/t Philadelphia Daily News)

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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Continue reading "Court grants access to plaintiff's social media in discrimination case" »

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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Continue reading "Ethics charges for two lawyers over Facebook friending a litigant" »