We had a great turnout and reaction to the presentation yesterday at the CBIA Human Resources Conference in Rocky Hill. My thanks to all who sat in our packed room and the great questions that everyone asked.

A few observations from the conference:

  • The lines between work and personal activities continue to get blurred and employers are struggling with this. Even where there is no relationship apparent between the two, blogs and Facebook activities are causing or have the potential to cause disruption at a company.  Figuring out where your company will draw the line is important to determining what level of social media activity your employees will be allowed to engage in.  (For more on this topic, see this excellent post from this morning from the Delaware Employment Law Blog about the employee who was fired for his sex-themed blog.)
  • As a result, developing a social media policy or a set of guidelines may assist your employees in what is permissible and what isn’t.
  • Connecticut does have a statute, Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-51q that gives private employees some limited First Amendment protections to free speech when that speech is a matter of "public concern". An unanswered question thus far then for employers is whether an employee’s conduct on social networking sites could be seen as being protected by this statute.  There haven’t been any cases about this…yet.
  • Another interesting topic of discussion was whether an employer can require an employee to set up their Facebook page to have strong privacy settings.  I don’t think a hard-and-fast rule can be applied; clearly where the person’s position requires some use of Facebook and where there are teens involved (camp counselors, child-care workers), it seems a much more reasonable request, than say for a fast-food worker.  But feel free to comment below whether you think employers can dictate the privacy settings employees need to use on their personal Facebook pages.