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Social Media and Off-the-Clock Posting (Part 2 of 2)


HR Insights


Posted on 11/1/2018 by Ali Oromchian, Esq.
With social media’s prevalence in today’s tech world, many employers are left feeling victim to scathing social media postings. Many employers are left wondering, what can I do to combat social media postings?

1. Draft a Social Media Policy
For all the reasons above, it is imperative you draft a detailed social media policy. Employees need to understand the expectations you have as their employer and know that they are accountable for their actions when discussing the business and its affiliates on social media. Additionally, it is imperative you outline that the company is in no way discouraging or disciplining staff members that engage in protected concerted action.

2. Lead by Example
You may be surprised how many times we find the employer engaging in the same acts they want to prohibit with their team. You must lead by example. If you do not want your employees to vent on social media, neither should you. Keep in mind that you set the tone of your company’s culture.

3. Never Request or Require an Employee to “Add” You on Social Media
When you discover a posting because you are already “friends” with someone, it could encroach the line of “monitoring” and complicates the options you have when handling the situation. You must consider how you discovered a posting. Did you seek out postings or pressure your staff to add you on social media—or initiate “adding” someone to your social media? Did another employee inform you? These questions are important because they will influence how a posting is addressed. In short, it is easier to discipline if a posting comes to your attention from a fellow employee or client because it involves other parties who felt uncomfortable. When you discover a posting because you are already connected with someone, it begins to encroach the line of “monitoring” and complicates the situation.

4. Address Concerns with Open Door Communication
Many issues stem from an employee’s frustrations of feeling that they do not have a voice. Similar to leading by example, you must work in good faith to address and document all issues. By getting to the root of a problem you illustrate your good faith efforts—and due diligence—to solve possible workplace issues that could escalate to legal claims in the future. If they are not justifiable complaints, but simply the employee feeling unhappy, they will be more receptive as to why they are being disciplined and have a better understanding as to what is appropriate moving forward.

5. Consult with an HR Professional
It is important that you speak with an HR specialist or labor law attorney to assist with high-risk situations. Inadvertently discriminating against a staff member or class of employees, or disciplining your staff for engaging in protected action are of considerable concern. It is imperative you speak with an HR Specialist or labor law attorney to assist with these high-risk situations. It is also important to note that many states have differing specifications of what is protected on social media. In addition to the limitations under federal law, mostly imposed under the broad Electronic Communications Privacy Act, several states have enacted their own statutes regarding social media. Although many state statutes prohibit an employer from requiring or requesting employees to disclose usernames and login information, it is still safest to consult an HR professional to evaluate if you have crossed any invisible lines you may not be aware of.

If you feel your company may be at risk, or you need some assistance with maintaining compliance, reach out to HR for Health by either clicking here, or call 877.779.4747, option 1, or email: compliance@hrforhealth.com today

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