Employers are saddled with a myriad of federal and state laws with which they must comply — and this includes rules related to the area of social media.
Neither federal nor state laws, however, have provided a codified set of rules for handling social media in the workplace. Collectively, though, the laws and regulations form a loose framework of reference. For example:
Federal Law and Social Media
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has said that it is unlawful for an employer to use social media information to discriminate in violation of: Title VII, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, or the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.
The National Labor Relations Board under the Obama Administration took the position that social media posts about terms and conditions of employment – even something as trivial as a “like” – may be protected concerted activity under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act.
State Law and Social Media
Most state social media laws protect both current employees and applicants. The laws can prohibit employers from requesting or requiring that current or prospective employees:
Disclose personal social media usernames or passwords;
Add or “friend” the company, an employee, supervisor, or administrator, or join a particular group on social media;
Divulge information from the individual’s personal social media account;
Change personal social media privacy settings;
Access their own social media accounts in the presence of the employer.
Here are the Top Five Tips for Employers:
Remember that traditional workplace claims still apply in the social media realm.
Maintain updated social media policies.
Craft policies that are specific, precise, and narrowly tailored to the company’s business interests.
Do not require or request job applicants to provide access to their personal social media accounts.
And most importantly, Use a third-party service or designated employee without hiring authority to conduct social media searches in the public domain.
———- Social media is part of today’s workplace presenting both new opportunities and problems for employers. If you have questions regarding a particular situation at your office, or if you would like further information on best practices for social media or other HR-related policies, contact Casey Erick.