Adam Katz, a partner in the Business and Commercial Practice Group, warned readers of the Observer about the dangers of employment policies that don’t address social media use — both inside and outside the workplace. “An employee can bring a lawsuit for wrongful termination and discrimination if they believe they were fired for something that a supervisor saw on social media but otherwise would not have known,” he told the Observer.
As social media becomes not only an inherent element in daily life, but also a nearly ubiquitous component in contemporary business practices, there are increased risks not only because of what employees might post, but also in how employers react. Risks are especially high in certain industries — like journalism, marketing, and sports and entertainment — where employees’ personal social media followings and professional followings overlap significantly and grow in tandem.
“A good policy will state that while employees are allowed to associate themselves with the company when posting, they must clearly brand their online posts as purely their own.” Adam says. “Additionally, the policy should make provisions for reviews and editorial rights of all posts or blog entries that reference or pertain to the business of the company.” Finally, “The social media policy should also prohibit employees from using derogatory words and racial slurs and from divulging confidential company information such as design plans, internal operations, and legal matters.”
A commercial litigator and white-collar defense attorney based in New York City, Adam’s experience includes creating social media, wage and hour, and other employee policies for large companies and working with chief executive officers to implement the policies.