Technology: Liability dangers raised by social media

How to handle employees who are always everywhere, but never anywhere

Employers, imagine that your employees’ use of Facebook and Twitter is akin to being at the controls of a forklift. Consider the employee who is angry because he has not been adequately trained and is tired of having to be on call 24/7, or the employee who is upset because she believes overtime is being unfairly distributed among company personnel.

What if these two employees decide to post an angry grievance on Facebook, which is then commented on by other friendly employees? What risk does that present the employer? Building on the forklift analogy, imagine that the Facebook posts and comments cause the disgruntled employees to lose control of the forklift, ultimately injuring another employee or the company itself.

Similarly, the Department of Labor and the plaintiffs’ bar have an interest in the expanding use of social media. With 24/7 connections, employees can access work contacts at any time, creating the risk of employee overtime claims as they click and respond on business issues, with or without the actual knowledge of management.

Likewise, Occupational Safety and Health Administration issues also come into play. What if an employee becomes distracted while she is commenting on a Facebook post, and this ends up jeopardizing the safety of another employee? Failure to adopt policies that address the dangers created by distractions in the workplace may expose an employer to mounting employee safety claims.

Contributing Author

author image

Terence Connor

Terence G. Connor is a partner in the Miami office of Hunton & Williams LLP, and in the firm’s labor and employment practice. He has...

Bio and more articles

Join the Conversation

Advertisement. Closing in 15 seconds.