The contemporary employee handbook: Anticipating the pitfalls associated with new technologies

Handbook policies, if done well, can help companies respond seamlessly to new technologies

Technology’s strength can also be its downfall in the workplace: It facilitates the quick and easy gathering of information and allows for instantaneous dissemination to multiple recipients. The immediate availability of social media, and employees’ access to the Internet generally, can give rise to a bevy of abuses. Savvy companies will anticipate the potential pitfalls associated with new technologies and ensure that their employee handbooks are sufficiently current and flexible to address them appropriately.

Employers should evaluate their vulnerabilities when crafting their social media, email and Internet usage policies, and not just from the perspective of today’s technology. Perhaps the most ripe area for abuse now and in the future is the unauthorized dissemination of confidential and proprietary business information or trade secrets. The prevalence of smart phones with cameras, and the promise of wearable technologies, means that employees or visitors can upload and share confidential information in an instant.

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Catherine T. Barbieri

Catherine T. Barbieri is a partner with Fox Rothschild LLP and a member of the Labor and Employment Department. She can be reached at

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