Labor: New Technologies can Present Legal and Business Risks

"Smart phones" (Blackberrys, iPhones, and Droids, to name a few) are cell phones on steroids. Most smart phones have email, texting, video display, internet access and all of those cool apps. Employers are already enjoying the benefits of employees' use of smart phones, but often without realizing that there are also legal and business risks involved too. Now is the time for employers to make strategic decisions about smart phones and establish policies, procedures and other practical steps in order to keep up with the new technologies that employees are using in connection with work.

Employers reap enormous benefits in terms of improved customer relations, expedited work flow and enhanced bottom lines when employees use personal and company-owned smart phones to call, text, e-mail and tweet with clients, co-workers, suppliers and the public. These devices allow employees to access the internet and company computer systems 24/7 from virtually anywhere in the world. Moreover, smart phones are just the tip of the iceberg; other emerging technologies such as iPads, cloud computing (the use of servers and software owned by third-party vendors), Wikis (interlinked collaborative websites) will help employees work more efficiently, but also further complicate things for employers.

Paul E. Starkman

Paul Starkman is one of the leaders of the labor and employment law practice group at Pedersen & Houpt.

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