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Workplaces All A' "Twitter"

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May 24, 2010 | Legal Alert
Kenneth Gilberg

The profound impact of social media on the workplace has made it both a boon and a bane for modern business.  Twitter, Facebook and MySpace have changed the way employees communicate - both on and off the job Businesses that permit employees to access the internet can increase productivity and enhance performance.  .  However, allowing employee access to the internet also has created fertile ground for abuse and lawsuits.  Social media now permeates every aspect of the employment cycle, from pre-employment screening to post-discharge situations.  The challenge for employers is to effectively manage this technology without violating legally protected employee privacy rights.

The following illustrations highlight some of the problem areas that employers may face as a result of employee use of social media in the workplace setting.

Employers routinely utilize social media as a means to compile information in connection with employee hiring decisions.  Applicants for employment may reveal information about themselves through messages and photos contained in social media.  Although employers may use this information in their decision making process, they must exercise caution to ensure that its effect doesn't adversely effect an applicant by the use of unlawful discriminatory criteria.

It is apparent that with the benefits that accompany the use of social media in the workplace is a potential downside that may include employee lawsuits and a myriad of other legal issues.  Since the use of social media is pervasive and not likely to disappear, it is prudent for employers to be cognizant of and prepare for these risks.  Some suggestions for employers to avoid these risks include:

Conclusion

In today's fast- paced technological world, employers should protect themselves from employee abuse of social media in the workplace by establishing policies and procedures concerning its use.  Employers who establish, update and revise social media policies and learn how to positively use social media in the workplace will be able to take advantage of its instant and far reaching capabilities - without unnecessarily opening themselves to employee abuse and lawsuits.

In light of recent changes to data protection laws, we have updated our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions, which explain how we collect, use, maintain, and secure your information. By using this site, you agree to our updated Privacy & Terms of Use Policies