Does Your Company Have a Policy for Employees’ Social Media?
The use of social media, especially in a work-related context, is not without risk.
While some states have laws that prohibit employers from terminating employees for lawful “off-duty” activities, which would include social media use, employees engaging in speech on public social media platforms should be extremely careful. To the extent that these activities reflect poorly on a person’s company, there may be dire consequences.
As a recent example, earlier this month, ESPN host Jemele Hill was suspended for two weeks for violating ESPN’s social media guidelines after Hill turned to social media to express her personal opinion on a comment made by Dallas Cowboys’ owner, Jerry Jones. Jones had stated that any player on the Cowboys who shows disrespect for the US flag will not play. Jones made this comment in response to recent NFL player protests of the national anthem. Using her personal Twitter account, Hill tweeted that “Jerry Jones has created a problem for his players, specifically the black ones. If they don’t kneel, some will see them as sellouts.” She later added, “If you strongly reject what Jerry Jones said, the key is his advertisers. Don’t place the burden squarely on the players.” After suspending Hill, a statement from ESPN indicated that all employees were reminded how individual tweets may reflect negatively on ESPN and that such actions may have consequences.
Hill’s job is to report and comment on sports. While her tweets were done outside of the office and from her personal account, ESPN believed that they violated company’s social media policy. As the line between personal and professional becomes blurrier, it’s important that business owners and employees take a more careful look at their social media policies and practices
In this day and age, any employee handbook should include language specifically addressing the company’s social media policy. At Savur Threadgold LLP, we have extensive experience crafting social media policies and practices and would be happy to help you and your company develop and enforce one.
Call us today to discuss your company’s social media policies and whether they reflect today’s unique needs.
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New York, NY 10007
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