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By: Joseph Domenick Guarino, DLA Piper
LEXIS PRACTICE ADVISOR RESEARCH PATH: Labor & Employment > Privacy, Technology, and Social Media > Navigating Social Media > Practice Notes > Developing Social Media Polices
Social media platforms enable users to share ideas and exchange information in a highly effective manner. However, the use of social media by employees carries potential legal risks. These risks include the unauthorized disclosure of confidential and proprietary information, embarrassment stemming from an employee’s online words or actions, and claims for unlawful discrimination and harassment for which an employer who is on notice may be held liable.
CONSEQUENTLY, ALL EMPLOYERS SHOULD CONSIDER including within their handbooks a social media policy that establishes rules and guidelines for communicating information relating to the company via social media. Additionally, you should advise employers to distribute
their Social Media Policy as a standalone policy with its own acknowledgement form. This will underscore the importance of the policy to employees and, in the event of litigation, facilitate the employer’s ability to prove that the employee knew of the policy’s strictures.
In drafting a social media policy, you should consider the following:
The Company recognizes that Internet-provided social media can be a highly effective tool for sharing ideas and exchanging information. However, the Company also seeks to ensure that social media usage serves its need to maintain its brand identity and integrity while minimizing actual or potential legal risks. The Company therefore establishes the following rules and guidelines for communicating employer information via social media. Violation of this policy may lead to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.
The Company defines “social media” broadly to include online platforms that facilitate activities such as professional or social networking, posting commentary or opinions, ands haring pictures, audio, video, or other content. “Social media” includes personal websites and all types of online communities (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn, Yelp, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, blogs, message boards, and chat rooms).
The Company reserves the right to (and does) use software and search tools to monitor comments or discussions about it, its representatives, its products, its vendors and its competitors that are posted anywhere on the Internet, including social media.
The Company respects your right to communicate on your own (or other employees’) behalf concerning terms and conditions of employment. Nothing in this policy is intended to interfere with your rights under federal and state laws, including the National Labor Relations Act, nor will the Company construe this policy in a way that limits such rights.
Joseph Domenick Guarino is a partner in DLA Piper’s Short Hills, New Jersey office. Assistance provided by Erin Carney D’Angelo (of counsel) and Dianne Rose LaRocca (associate) of DLA Piper’s New York City office.