Massive increase in the use of social media for both business and personal use has created many new issues for employers. As our clients include thousands of business owners affected by these new tools and the liability they create, we turned to Employment Law expert, Attorney Rachel Weiss for a quick outline of current issues.

MySpace and Facebook and Twitter, Oh My!

Time to Start that Workplace Policy

Employers, it’s time to wake up. According to a 2009 survey conducted by Deloitte LLP*, 55% of employees visit social networking sites during work hours. More than a third of the employees surveyed don’t consider what their boss, co-workers, or clients would think about their online postings. Here’s the big red flag – almost 75% say it’s easy to damage a company’s reputation using social media.

While there’s no way to completely eliminate the legal and business-related risks posed by employee online networking activities, developing and enforcing a social media policy is crucial to avoiding legal pitfalls.

The exact wording will depend somewhat on the nature of the business and workforce, but at a minimum, a good social media policy should include these provisions:

1. Don’t expect privacy. Employees do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy if they use social media for personal purposes on a company computer or network.

2. Use good judgment. Employees may not post comments that are disrespectful, offensive or damaging to another employee or the employer’s business interests. The use of social media must not violate any other company policy (such as a computer usage or anti-harassment policy).

3. Only on your own time. Employees are prohibited from participating in social media during work time.

4. Post as yourself. Employees may not post anything that could in any way be attributed to the employer. Employees must notify readers that the views, opinions, ideas, and information are their own and are not sanctioned by the employer, and company trademarks or logos should never be used.

5. Keep secrets. Employees are prohibited from disclosing proprietary information, data, trade secrets or other confidential non-public information.

6. Don’t mess up. Violation of this policy may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.

Distribute the policy in writing to every employee. Add it to any existing employee handbook.

Finally, enforce the policy. Better to have no policy at all than to have one and ignore it.

Rachel Weiss is an employment law attorney with the Phoenix firm of Gammage & Burnham, PLC. For additional information regarding this or any other employment-related legal issue, Rachel can be reached at (602) 256-4448 or

* Social Networking and Reputational Risk in the Workplace, Ethics & Workplace Survey, Deloitte LLP 2009

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