With the increased use of social media by the public in general, one of the biggest questions employers face is whether to review an employee’s or job applicant’s social media accounts. An interesting article from today’s Wall Street Journal highlights two different perspectives on this issue.
In one corner, Nancy Flynn from The ePolicy Institute argues that strict monitoring allows employers to protect themselves by spotting potential problems early, getting information offline quickly, and disciplining the employees involved. And, while employers cannot use social media during the hiring process to discriminate against protected characteristics, conducting social media checks on prospective hires allows employers to find legitimate evidence that will help them make sound business decisions.
In the other corner, Lewis Maltby from the National Workrights Institute contends that employers should monitor social media only when there is a solid reason to suspect employee wrongdoing. Going beyond this can result in timely and non-productive fishing expeditions that put employers at risk of liability because it may be difficult for the employer to prove that it did not consider an employee’s or job applicant’s protected characteristics in the event of an adverse action down the road.
These two different perspectives highlight that there are many factors for employers to consider when deciding whether to monitor employees’ and/or prospective hires’ social media use. If you have concerns about your company’s particular approach, please contact us.