Employers “Surfing” into Uncharted Waters with Social Media Practices

As social media continues to blur the line between personal and professional lives, employers have grappled with whether they can or should use social media to monitor current employees or screen potential hires. While social media can provide employers with information to combat workplace harassment, protect confidentiality, and conduct internal background checks, recent lawsuits, media reports, and legislative activity at both the state and federal level indicate that employers may put themselves and their businesses at risk for taking action in the workplace for something posted online. In addition to recently enacted or proposed state laws prohibiting employers from requesting or requiring access to employee or applicant social media accounts, using social media information may potentially violate privacy, anti-discrimination, and labor laws as well as the terms of use of many social media sites.

A detailed summary of these potential risk areas that employers should consider as their social media practices and policies progress may be found here.

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