If you're unhappy at work, can you post anything you want about your boss, your colleagues, or your workplace, online? Two cases of disgruntled employees venting online serve as cautionary tales. Dawnmarie Souza, a Connecticut paramedic, was fired after calling her boss offensive names on her Facebook page while off-duty. And Natalie Munroe was suspended with pay after blogging that her students at Central Bucks East High School in Pennsylvania were "rude, disengaged, lazy whiners."
We speak with employment attorney Margaret "Molly" DiBianca, editor of the Delaware Employment Law blog. Below, see her tips for employers.
- TIME Magazine: How One Teacher's Angry Blog Sparked a Viral Classroom Debate
- Wall Street Journal: New York City Ballet and Boston Ballet Consider Social Media Rules
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Social Media Basics For Employers
by Margaret “Molly” DiBianca
- Identify a point person to answer employee questions about the policy
- Encourage employees to ask before acting if they’re unsure about the policy
- Reference other company policies, such as an anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policy, conflicts-of-interest policy, and confidentiality policy, as the basis for online policies
- Require all employees to report online conduct that violates any of these policies
- Offer ongoing education to employees, including proper online etiquette, good online citizenship, and how to adjust privacy settings in a social-networking profile
- Discuss stories in the news that are examples of violations of online policies
- Consider whether the post really impacts the organization in a negative way or whether it's more akin to traditional water-cooler gossip
- Don't take what you read online about your company personally or respond with emotion instead of logic
- Don’t try to "trick" employees into violating the policy
- Don't ever ask (or require) an employee or applicant to share passwords to online accounts
- Don't have another employee give you access to an account so you can snoop on coworkers
- Don't have someone send a friend request so you can gain access to an employee or applicant's profile without disclosing the real reason for the request
- If it sounds sneaky, looks sneaky, or smells sneaky, then a jury will hold you accountable for such unpalatable behavior
This segment aired on March 16, 2011.
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