Topic: Employment and labor

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CEO’s social media posts about former employee actionable as defamation

The California court of appeals recently allowed a defamation claim to proceed against a company’s CEO for libelous social media posts made about a former employee after her termination. According to her complaint, the employee had been the company’s only female senior executive during her tenure. Following a brief, rocky stint with the company, the employee was terminated, and she filed a lawsuit against the company, asserting claims for gender discrimination, retaliation, and harassment.… Continue Reading

Parties May Provide Notice to Class Members Through Social Media

With the prevalence of employment and labor class action lawsuits, particularly those based on alleged wage and hour violations, the nuances of defending those suits and administering potential settlements are paramount to California employers. One lesser-discussed feature of the class action process is the notice requirement to class members. Throughout the lifespan of the action, potential and actual class members must receive notice at a number of pivotal stages. These stages include, of course, those events closer to the end of the action such as proposed settlements and settlement distributions, but the notice issue can also arise relatively early in … Continue Reading

Federal District Court in California finds favoring younger, “social media savvy” employees may constitute age-based harassment

In recent posts, we have discussed how social media use and the enforcement of social media policies can have major implications in wage and hour lawsuits against U.S. employers. Now, a recent case in U.S. District Court in California suggests that social media can also play a role in discrimination suits.… Continue Reading

Social Media Activity Used as Evidence of Employees Violating Cell Phone Policy

In an August 1, 2019 post titled “Without Proper Enforcement, Even the Strongest Social Media Policies May Not Protect Employers,” we discussed how enforcement of corporate social media policies was paramount to protecting employers from liability stemming from employee violations of that policy. That post discussed how employers must take care not only to formulate comprehensive social media policies, but also to provide thorough training and ensure rigorous enforcement of those policies to its employees and managers.

In keeping with that theme, this article examines a specific illustration of the importance of maintaining and enforcing corporate social media … Continue Reading

Without proper enforcement, even the strongest social media policies may not protect employers

In a March 8, 2019 post titled “New California laws may require review of social media policies,” we explored how a host of new California laws would require a close review and revision of corporate social media policies.

That post discussed the role social media policies play in helping employers sidestep legal landmines by preventing wage and hour violations, unauthorized disclosure of the company’s trade secrets and other confidential information, violations of the Federal Trade Commission Act arising from an employee’s promotion of company products, infringement of third party intellectual property rights, employee harassment, and privacy violations.

Equally … Continue Reading

California companies should reevaluate how they classify social media freelancers

With companies increasingly turning to social media to meet their advertising needs, employers must take a closer look at how they classify social media consultants and freelancers. Although larger companies may have internal social media departments, many small companies contract outside social media consultants who work on an hourly basis. Typically, companies were able to classify these social media consultants as independent contractors provided that the consultant had the right to control the manner and means of their work.

Last year, in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles, the California Supreme Court threw out this … Continue Reading

New California laws may require review of social media policies

The use of social media by employees is as fraught as it is widespread, and creates tremendous legal risk for the employer. Indeed, employers are wise to require adherence to a thorough policy regarding employee use of social media both inside and outside of work. The best policies will aim to sidestep potential legal landmines by preventing unauthorized disclosure of the company’s trade secrets and other confidential information, violations of the Federal Trade Commission Act arising from an employee’s promotion of company products, infringement of third party intellectual property rights, employee harassment, and privacy violations.… Continue Reading

Inappropriate employee social media activity as a defense against employment discrimination claims

It seems inevitable in today’s digital world that employers will sometimes discover that an employee has posted inappropriate statements or other inappropriate content on social media. The employer must then decide how to respond. Although the desired level of discipline will vary depending on the severity of the content, some statements are so egregious that they may call an employee’s character or fitness into question such that termination is the appropriate response. But if an employee is terminated for inappropriate conduct on social media, does the employer then open itself up to an additional risk of litigation?… Continue Reading

NLRB issues new guidance on employer policies

In the wake of the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) decision in The Boeing Company, 365 NLRB No. 154 (Dec. 14, 2017), the NLRB has recently issued new guidance regarding employee handbook rules. The NLRB’s guidance can be found here.

In Boeing, the Board overturned its old standard, under which an employer rule violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) if a worker could “reasonably construe” it to interfere with the right to engage in protected concerted activity. Under the new standard adopted by the Board, an employer rule will only violate the NLRA if it would Continue Reading

The #MeToo Movement: When Employees Take Their Complaints to Social Media

As we are all aware, the news has been populated with stories concerning allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct, particularly in the entertainment and media industries as well as government institutions. These stories have contributed to the “#MeToo” movement, which originated on Twitter and other social media websites in late 2017 and has since become a widespread message on social media encouraging individuals to share their stories and speak out against sexual harassment and abuse.  Although its purposes are laudable, the #MeToo movement is a touchy subject for employers, who ever-more-frequently find themselves accused of sexual harassment or other misconduct … Continue Reading

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act: Considerations for Employers

Although the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) (18 U.S.C. § 1030) is a federal statute that primarily protects against unauthorized computer access such as hacking, it can also impact employers in the realm of social media.  Originally enacted in 1984, CFAA makes it illegal to access knowingly or intentionally a “protected computer” without authorization or in excess of authorized access. Protected computers are defined broadly to include all computers that are used in or affect interstate commerce, and thus include most employer-owned computer systems.  Violations of CFAA may result in criminal penalties, and CFAA also permits individuals (and employers) … Continue Reading

Constructive dismissal or scorned husband? A closer look at Niland v Ntabeni NO and others

In a digital age where there are billions of active social media users globally it is conceivable that employees engage in activities and posts on media platforms, that may result in their dismissal. However, an employee’s social media posts can also be scrutinised outside of the misconduct space. In Nilan v Nthabeni (2017) 5 BLLR 521(LC), the South African court considered an employee’s social media post to decide whether the employee’s resignation was due to his desire to work for a competitor or to his wife having an affair with his employer.… Continue Reading

Unemployment Benefits Lost Over Social Media Post

Even when an employee is terminated for cause, it can be difficult to fight an employee’s claim for unemployment benefits. A September 2017 ruling from the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania may provide employers a new route to combat meritless unemployment claims. In most states, an unemployed individual may file for and receive unemployment benefits if he is out of work due to no fault of his own.  The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania recently affirmed a decision by the state’s unemployment board to deny a former painter at a metal company unemployment benefits because of a social media post he left … Continue Reading

How to use social media – and the consequences if you step out of line

In South Africa, employees are under the mistaken belief that what they do in their time away from the office, specifically on social media, is private and beyond the reach of their employer’s control.

They fail to consider that they could face disciplinary action for their online rants and comments. This could be fatal to their employment. The reality is that with the escalating use of social media during working hours as well as outside of company time, employees are regularly coming under fire for what they post online.… Continue Reading

Anonymity of former employee reviews

In March of 2017, a California court of appeals prohibited the disclosure of an individual’s identity after the individual anonymously posted negative information about his former employer on the website Glassdoor.

Glassdoor, Inc. operates a website that allows individuals to post reviews anonymously about their employment experiences.  One such post was published to the website on June 21, 2015 by an individual claiming to be former employee of Machine Zone, Inc. The post included negative comments about the company, including:… Continue Reading

Private social media posts can get you kicked out of university and worse

Each year Harvard University, one of the world’s most prestigious universities, receives over 30,000 applications from prospective students for about 2,000 places in its first year class. Recently, ten of those successful applicants, due to graduate in 2021, had their offers of admission revoked before they set foot onto campus.  The reason?  The content of the offensive memes they had shared on a private Facebook group, which at one stage had been named “Harvard memes for horny bourgeois teens”.… Continue Reading

NLRB Reviews and Approves Northwestern University’s Revised Football Handbook Social Media Policy

On January 1, 2017, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) released an advice memorandum (dated September 22, 2016) that reviewed and approved Northwestern University’s revised Football Handbook’s social media policy. The NLRB Office of the General Counsel, which prepared the advice memorandum, was asked to advise whether the university’s Football Handbook policies, including its social media policy, were lawful.… Continue Reading

Not all employee complaints on Twitter are concerted activity

Earlier this year, we discussed that a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) administrative law judge found that an employee’s tweets could be considered protected “concerted activity” in Chipotle Services LLC d/b/a Chipotle Mexican Grill.  As a reminder, the administrative law judge determined that portions of Chipotle’s outdated Social Media Code of Conduct policy violated the U.S. National Labor Relations Act (NRLA).  The judge also found that Chipotle’s request that the employee remove his Twitter posts (i.e. “tweets”) also violated the NLRA. On August 18, 2016, a three-member panel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) affirmed that Chipotle’s … Continue Reading

NLRB seeks cases on internal co. messaging

The General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) in March of 2016 issued memorandum 16-01 requiring the Board’s Regional Offices, which investigate and prosecute unfair labor practices, to submit all cases or complaints related to employee e-mail and other electronic systems to the NLRB Division of Advice.  The General Counsel explained in the memorandum that certain cases and issues are of particular interest to the Board and therefore require consideration by the head office in Washington, DC.  This memorandum makes clear that the NLRB continues to take a keen interest in extending the reach of the National Labor … Continue Reading

We’re back, with our top five social media stories of 2015

The Social Media Law Bulletin is back!We’re back, with our top five social media stories of 2015

The ongoing interest of our readers as well as the increasing impact of social media led us to re-launch the Social Media Law Bulletin. We will be bringing you coverage of one or two items approximately each week, but in the meantime, we thought we would give you a brief summary of some of the most significant social media stories from 2015:

Schrems v Facebook

Facebook earned the top spot in our social media impact list, due to a court ruling that only indirectly affected it. In October 6, 2015, the European Court … Continue Reading

NLRB approves social media policy disclaimer language

The Office of the General Counsel (OGC) of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently released another advice memorandum providing enforcement guidance on employer social media policies. This time, the OGC reviewed a company social medial policy which required employees to post a specific disclaimer that they were sharing their own views and not the views of the company if they identified themselves as company employees on any website or blog.

The relevant portion of the policy stated:

If you identify yourself anywhere on a web site, blog, or text as an employee of USA . . . we require

Continue Reading

Facebook “Likes” Found to Be Protected Activity

On August 22, 2014, in Three D. LLC d/b/a Triple Play Sports Bar and Grille, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) held that an employer violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) after terminating employees for commenting on and “Liking” a former employee’s Facebook post.

In January 2011, a former Triple Play employee complained on her Facebook page that Triple Play Sports Bar had failed to deduct the correct amount of state income tax from her paycheck. Two current employees “Liked” the comment and responded with similar complaints.  When they arrived for their shift the following day, the owner … Continue Reading

Social Media Accounts After Death – Delaware’s New Law

After January 1, 2015, individuals whose wills are governed by Delaware law can have their digital assets and digital accounts accessed and controlled by their personal representatives of their estates, courtesy of a new Delaware law.  Modeled on the uniform model Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, the Delaware law vests the decedent’s personal representative with the same authority as the owner of the digital assets.  Upon request of the personal representative for access to, transfer of, copy of, or destruction of the digital asset, the online service provider/web site has 60 days to respond to such a … Continue Reading

A picture can be worth a thousand links

From giant billboards on the highway to tiny pictures that can go viral within seconds, the use of social media sites like Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr has revolutionized the advertising industry.

Companies can now reach their target audiences more quickly and more effectively by taking advantage of instantaneous posting of pictures and blogs. The use of social media apps that allow the quick exchange of photos to other users is rapidly growing.

Apps like Instagram are some of the top social media apps, bringing in more than 200 million active users around the world. See Twitter active users pass Continue Reading

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