background checks, Blogging, Blogs, case law, Employee evaluations, Employee privacy, Employer liability, Employment, Employment Law, employment verification, Executive Management, Facebook, HR, Human Resources, Internet, lawsuit, LinkedIn, Management Practices, monitoring employees, New Business World, performance reviews, Privacy, Privacy on the Internet, Public Image, Public Relations, Publicity, Rotary, security, Social Media, Social Networking
by Paul Kiser
USA PDT [Twitter: ] [Facebook] [LinkedIn] [Skype:kiserrotary or 775.624.5679]
One of the hottest topics in the world of employment is whether or not an employer should monitor his or her Internet activities. This is a subject I’ve written about before, but it is an issue that is still emerging and has yet to have any significant case-law to provide guidance to employers.
It is well-known that a large number of employers perform a ‘Google’ search on the Internet before they hire an applicant, but now companies are feeling the need to continue to monitor an employee’s Internet activities after hire. Many experts, especially those involved in employee liability prevention support an employer’s right to monitor an employee’s Internet activities even when those activities occur off-duty and offsite. The logic is that it is prudent to aware of anything an employee might say or do that could embarrass the employer, or any indication that the employee might take an action that might involve the company and its facilities.
These are rational arguments, but I believe that monitoring an employee’s activities is opening the door to bigger liability issues. Sound odd? Here’s the scenario I see happening in three Acts.
Act One: A busy-body employer or manager casually checks his or her employee’s Facebook, MySpace, and/or Twitter accounts. The employer might even do a Google search on an employee from time to time. When the employer or manager finds something that they see as objectionable they confront the guilty employee and take the proper action. It becomes known throughout the company (and the employee’s family) that the employer monitors its employee’s personal Internet activity.
Act Two: An employee has been reprimanded for content they have posted on the Internet. Six months later the same employee posts information on the Internet that he is considering suicide and describes in detail how he is going to kill himself. Two weeks later the employee carries out the suicide as described. The family is aware the employer monitors the employee’s Internet activity and sues the employer claiming that the employer should have reasonably been aware of the planned suicide and taken action.
Act Three: Companies find themselves with two polar opposite choices. Either the company does not monitor their employee’s Internet activities or the company assigns resources to constantly monitor the Internet on every employee to insure they capture any relevant data for which the company should take action.
I was trained in Human Resources under the policy that what the employee did on her or his own time was off-limits to the employer unless it had a direct impact the job performance. That policy has had to be adjusted in a world where work and off-duty time can often be hard to differentiate, and where drug testing, researching credit scores and background checks have become standard operating procedure for many companies. However, an employee’s personal Internet activities is almost impossible to track in a society that is increasing involved in hours of daily online social networking. The question is whether an employer wants to be liable for monitoring its employees 24/7/365 and being held responsible for taking the appropriate action, or whether the employer would be better served by not being sucked into liability issues that can be avoided by simply not playing the role of Big Brother ?
I know which strategy I would recommend to my clients.
Business: Public Relations, Management, and Social Media Related
- Relationship Typing: 3 factors that affect the quality and depth of friendship (Part I)
- Starbucks Re-Imagines the business … again
- Your Privacy Rights on the Internet: Read before you write
- Social Media 3Q Update: Who uses Facebook, Twitter,LinkedIn, and MySpace?
- Richmond Embassy Suites: The best at true Hospitality
- Dear Business Person: It’s 2010, please update your brain.
- Selling watered-down beer: The best spin campaign in advertising
- Communication: Repetition of message does not increase awareness
- Is it time to fire yourself?
- Millennium Hotel: Go away, spend your money elsewhere
- Rogue Flight Attendant shows his arrogance, Airlines dislike for the customer
- 2Q 2010 Social Media Tools: Facebook/Twitter sail on, LinkedIn/MySpace don’t
- War Declared on Social Media: Desperate Acts of Traditional Media
- Pay It Middle: The Balance between Too Much and Too Little Compensation
- Mega Executive Pay Leads to Poor Performance
- Relationships and Thin-Slicing: Why the other person knows what you’re really thinking
- Browser Wars: Internet Explorer losing, Google Chrome gaining ground
- WiFi on Southwest Airlines: Is it ‘Shovel Ready’?
- Starbucks makes a smart move: Free WiFi
- Foul Play: FIFA shows what less regulation offers to business
- The Shock of the McChrystal Story: The story is over before the article is published
- Tony Hayward: The very model of a modern Major General
- Epic Fail: PR ‘Experts’ don’t get Twitter
- King of Anything: Social Media vs Traditional Media
- Twitter is the Thunderstorm of World Thought
- Signs of the Times
- How Social Interactive Media Could Transform Higher Education
- How to Become a Zen Master of Social Media
- Death of All Salesmen!
- Aristotle’s General Rules on Social Media
- Social Media: What is it and Why Should You Care?
- Social Media 2020: Keep it Personal
- Social Media 2020: Who Shouldn’t Be Teaching Social Media
- Social Media 2020: Public Relations 2001 vs Social Media Relations 2010
- Social Media 2020: Who Moved My Public Relations?
- Publishing Industry to End 2012
- Who uses Facebook, Twitter, MySpace & LinkedIn?
- Fear of Public Relations
- Dissatisfiers: Why John Quit
- Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn…Oh My!
- Does Anybody Really Understand PR?
- Rotary@105: 7 Relationship types that affect membership retention (Part II)
- What most non-Rotarians don’t know about Rotary
- Rotary@105: Making Rotary Sexy
- Rotary@105: Grieving change
- How Rotary can..must..will plug into Social Media
- Rotary PR: Disrespecting the Club President is a PR/Membership issue
- Rotary Membership/Public Image Challenge
- Rotary New Year: Retread or Renaissance?
- Rotary@105: A young professionals networking club?
- One Rotary Center: A home for 1.2 million members
- Rotary@105: What BP Could Learn from the 1914 Rotary Code of Ethics
- Rotary Magazine Dilemma Reveals the Impact of Social Media
- Rotary@105: April 24th – Donald M. Carter Day
- Rotary@105: What kind of animal is Rotary International?
- Rotary: The Man in the Yellow Hat as the Ideal Club President?
- Rotary@105: Our 1st Rotary Club Dropout
- Rotary Public Relations and Membership: Eight Steps to a Team Win
- Rotary: All Public Relations is Local
- Best Practices: Become a Target!
Personal Experience Related
- Knowing when it’s over or beyond over
- Dear Teresa Laraba, SVP of Southwest Airlines Customer Service
- Things I didn’t know about being a Father to a four-year-old boy
- Riding Reno: The Ladies of Reno
- Up in the air down in Texas
- I mow my lawn because…
- Nevada I-580: An Interstate by any other name
- Nevada’s oldest brewery opens a Reno location
- Two Barbecues and a Wedding
- Car Dealership Re-Imagines Customer Service
Our Country and History Related
Pingback: Sandoval/Reid campaign money not a stimulus for Nevada « Paul Kiser's Blog