Labor: The nuts and bolts of a robust social media policy

The reasons for why every employer needs one are manifold.

The case for every employer to develop and implement a robust social media policy is straightforward. The proper use of websites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ can aid companies' hiring decisions. However, overreliance on such media during hiring can expose a company to a disparate impact claim of race discrimination. In fact, a Pew Research Center survey estimates that 85 percent of its users are Caucasian, as compared to only 2 percent African-American and 4 percent Hispanic.

Likewise, the use of social media can aid in internal investigations of employee misconduct. At the same time, an employer's ham-handed use of this medium can lead to costly litigation. See, e.g., Karl Knauz Motors, Inc., Case No. 13-CA-46452, in which the National Labor Relations Board alleges that a car dealer unlawfully fired a salesperson for Facebook comments critical of the employer. Additionally, Pietrylo v. Hillstone Rest. Grp., Docket No. 2:06-cv-05754 (D.N.J. 2008) denied an employer summary judgment on state- and federal-stored communications claims where the employer demanded an employee's user name and password to a MySpace page containing allegedly inappropriate references to coworkers, supervisors and the workplace.


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David Gevertz

David Gevertz is a shareholder and vice chair of the Labor and Employment Department at Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC (Atlanta). His practice...

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