When companies adopt social media, they are usually concerned about people saying bad things about them. Their first instinct is to issue a policy that dictates what people can and cannot say. This can often backfire, since being able to talk about wages, hours and working conditions is protected by the NLRA. Employers want to be careful about disciplining employees for off-duty conduct.
Basically, employers can’t have the one thing they really want. The law prevents it.
- Discrimination/Harassment– Social media posts are evidence. Twitter is public and the rest is easily accessible. So if employees, particularly managers, make discriminatory comments or use social media to harass employees in a protected class, the company can be liable.
- Intellectual Property– Employees need to understand exactly what of the company’s trade secrets and internal strategy and financial information is confidential. This does not mean having them sign a Nondisclosure Agreement where “Confidential Information” includes the toilet paper in the men’s room. They need training on what is secret and why. Do your managers know what information can and can’t be discussed outside the company?
- Other Personal Information– Personal information about employees or clients should not be discussed on social media, not even on Facebook where people think it’s private. It’s not. There are many Federal and State laws that deal with employee privacy, but if it has anything to do with their medical, financial or sex lives, don’t talk about it on social media.
- Public Companies and Regulated Industries– Do your employees know what information is covered by insider trading regulations? It’s broad and can potentially include almost anything relating to finances or changes at a publicly held company. Other industries, especially the financial/banking industries have specific rules about what information can and cannot be disclosed.
- Employee Safety– Employees should not use location features or check in on Four Square if it could compromise their safety. Don’t check in when you’re making the night deposit.