4 Things to Know About Social Media and Your Employee Handbook

ICYMI: A BN360 Legal Briefs Recap

If you have seen the news lately, whether you watch it, read it, or tweet it, you have probably seen a story about someone who was let go from their place of employment because they violated the social media policy in their company handbook. Cue Juli Briskman, who was let go from her job after a picture of her flipping off the president’s motorcade went viral.

Source: Brendan Smialowski Via Getty Images

Getting a grasp on social media and the employee handbook can be overwhelming, which is why Harris Beach put together an in-depth presentation on all you need to know about social media and the employee handbook. If your organization, like many companies, are tackling this issue, this is a must read.  Find it here.

Whether you are taking a hard look at your company’s social media policies, or you are just a social media user with a job, you need to know your rights and protections. Here are a few takeaways from our first Legal Briefs Event of 2018:

4 Things to Know About Social Media and the Employee Handbook:


1. Social media can blur the line between work and personal life.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, social media allows us to connect and socialize with more people in a more public way. The downside is some of those people could be your co-workers, employees, or clients. That’s when the line between work life and personal life becomes blurred. Whether accidental or intentional, social media often complicates things for the employee and the employer.

2. It’s best not to friend or follow a subordinate and/or manager.

While not necessarily illegal, it can lead to oversharing and awkward situations. Through social activity, friends learn about medical conditions, marital status, sexual orientation, race issues and beliefs, religions and other pieces of information that may never have come up had the two employees not connected online.  In serious cases, this can lead to discrimination and/or harassment claims.

3. Know/read your employee handbook.

While social media policies are still evolving, your employee handbook should give you a good idea on where your company stands.  It should cover electronic communication policies like internet, email, voicemail and other messaging systems, like chat.  Be aware that a handbook will often state that you have no expectation of privacy for any communications on a company computer – we repeat: no expectation of privacy.

4. Do NOT post negative comments about your employer.

This is (hopefully) an obvious one, but don’t post any proprietary information or anything disparaging, disrespectful, defamatory.  Again, this is not illegal, but this is often a section in the handbook and is grounds for termination.  Not to mention that this type of activity could prevent you from getting another job.

So, people – Practice safe social – be careful who you friend/follow, be careful what you do on your work computer and if you are having a bad day at work, write it down on a piece of paper…and then shred it.


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About Rachael Herrmann

Program Manager