Employers and Social Media: What Your Business Needs to Know

Social media has changed the way we communicate with one another and how we encounter information on a daily basis. As an employer, how your employees choose to utilize these platforms can have a positive or negative impact on your company. Knowing how to implement social media policies effectively in your workplace can help your business maintains its image, but it’s also a smart idea to remember where the line is with regard to evolving employee rights. Our commercial litigation lawyers explain the current climate surrounding this branch of employment law.

The First Amendment Does Not Apply — Sort Of

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The Constitution protects your employees from the federal government, but does not place restrictions on how you regulate speech and communication in your workplace. If you want to institute a policy disallowing social media access while your employees are at work, you can do without fear of violating a basic freedom.

When it comes to other forms of communication, including blogging or creative writing on the Internet, laws do curtail your ability as an employer to level disciplinary action against workers for what they write. Regulations that prohibit retaliation for employees raising particular issues, including safety concerns, also provide protect them should they decide to write about those things online. Firing them for voicing their concerns could be a violation of federal and state laws.

Off-Duty Conduct Laws

A number of states have laws on the books that prohibit disciplinary action against employees for off-duty conduct that does not violate any state or federal regulations. Pennsylvania does not have such a law, meaning you could (in theory) levy action against workers for the activities or actions they engage in during off-duty hours, including their activity on social media. It’s wise to speak with a commercial litigation attorney before establishing a policy about off-duty social media use or disciplining workers to avoid potential liability.

Asking for Social Media Passwords

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You wouldn’t open your employees’ mail, but you may not think twice about demanding social medial passwords to monitor activity. Think again before you act. The law is still evolving around this topic, though many states are passing laws blocking employers from demanding the passwords of social media accounts from their employees and prospective hires. Consult with state ordinances and a law firm of experienced business lawyers before you implement a policy at your business that could potentially violate your workforce’s privacy rights en masse.

Restricted Viewers Trumps Prying Eyes

Smart members of your workforce will simply block views to social media accounts from those they don’t know or who aren’t their friends. You can’t demand they change their privacy settings to allow you to pry into their lives, not unless it’s a matter of national security, which it probably isn’t.

 If you’re dealing with an employment law matter, you need skilled attorneys working on your behalf to see that your business receives fair treatment. Contact our Pennsylvania law firm today for a private consultation regarding your employment-related matter. We’ll devise an effective strategy that meets your company’s needs in the fastest way possible.