Employee / Labor Relations
With a half-billon users, Facebook has expanded its reach from college dormitories to the workplace, and your company likely employs at least one (or more likely several) users of social media. It's not just your recent graduates or interns that are posting photos, status updates, joining groups, and connecting with old classmates via social media.
As of January 2010, 60 percent of Facebook users were over the age of 25. LinkedIn, a social media site dedicated to professional networking, has over 60 million users of all ages who are posting resumes, professional awards and recommendations from former coworkers or supervisors.
Only time will tell what will be the next popular social networking site, but social media is here to stay, and it can provide innovative new ways to interact and respond to your customers. But more and more, supervisors and human resource managers are faced with employee complaints or misconduct arising from use of social media, and the legal guidance from the courts on privacy, harassment, and off-duty conduct is years behind the technology, creating confusion for employers on the proper steps to take.
Here are 10 tips for employers who want to be proactive about employee issues arising out of social media:
Get familiar with Facebook, LinkedIn or other sites that are popular with your employees.
Update current company policies.
Consider whether your company environment needs a specific social media policy.
Prohibit use of the employee's company e-mail address.
Discourage your managers from "friending" their subordinate employees.
Immediately get a copy of any post that is the subject of a complaint.
Only use social media for employment screening in a consistent way.
Warn managers to follow standard policies for recommendations on LinkedIn or other professional sites.
Be aware of possible protected, concerted activity.
Above all, use common sense.
Megan Winter is an associate in the Fisher & Phillips San Diego office. She handles administrative and civil employment matters before state and federal courts and government agencies. Her practice involves representation of employers in a variety of matters including harassment and discrimination litigation, wage and hour class actions, and family and medical leave law. Megan also assists employers in developing workplace policies and procedures, and she regularly advises employers regarding day to day employment issues and ways to avoid employment claims and litigation. Upon graduating from law school, Megan was awarded the ABA/BNA Award for Excellence in the Study of Labor and Employment Law.
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