Move over, wage & hour law. There’s a new hot topic in the town of Employment Law. Its’ name is Social Media.
In fact, with so much being written on it, it’s hard to separate out the usual "Beware of Social Media!" articles from those posts that delve more deeply into the subject and add to the general discussion.
This week, there have been two excellent posts on the subject that you ought to take a look at for the impact on employment law. (If warranted, this type of post may become an occasional feature of the blog.)
First up is a post by Seth Borden who co-authors the Labor Relations Today blog. In the guest post for the National Law Journal , he tackles the implications that social media has on traditional labor law. As he notes, the NLRB is poised to take action soon.
The new National Labor Relations Board is paying attention to new media in all its forms, featuring its own Facebook page, YouTube channel, and Twitter feed. It is only a matter of time before this board directly addresses labor disputes arising out of the use of these media in the workplace
He goes on to note that the new majority on the board "will surely allow employees access to an employer’s e-mail systems for a broader range of protected union-related activities — especially in cases in which the employer tolerates other nonbusiness use. "
This has implications not only in employers with an existing union presence, but also in those in which employees are considering organizing. Definitely a subject to keep an eye on over the next year or two.
Another article highlights the growing movement in courts to allow a party access to an opponent’s Facebook page for discovery. In the 3 Geeks & A Law Blog, a recent posts highlights a New York court decision that required the Plaintiff to provide a release to allow access to her Facebook page.
In this case where the Plaintiff was asking for damages for personal injuries, the Defense was claiming that they had reason to believe that the Plaintiff posted pictures and information that showed she was not suffering from a loss of enjoyment of life. Not only did the Defendant want to access the private portions of the Plaintiff’s account, but they also wanted access to any deleted information. [The judge] agreed…
While the case arises in New York, do not be surprised if you continue to see courts following this trend. As 3 Geeks notes: "Expect everything you post on Facebook or MySpace to be considered public information by the courts, and don’t expect that your self-imposed privacy settings will protect you if you’re ever taken to court." The ABA Journal has also summarized the court’s findings as well.