If you have read my blog for any time at all (thank you!) then you know one my major concerns is how the use of social media effects teachers, public employees, and even employers. While it shouldn’t come as any surprise that an individual’s off-the-clock social media use can effect their employment, a recent appellate decision from Georgia ruled on a novel question: can parents be liable when their child makes a fake Facebook profile of another child and then posts defamatory and libelous comments there. See Boston v. Athearn, A14A0971 (Ga. App. Oct. 10, 2014) (thanks to Legal Clips for pointing out this case). While the ultimate ruling was that the parents could be held liable, the specific facts are important. Hit the jump for more… Continue reading
Category Archives: Social Media
My most recent Legal Matters article for Missouri NEA’s Something Better
magazine is now available online and I really hope that every teacher who uses district laptops (or tablets!) takes a moment to read through it. More and more districts are providing technology for employees to use and take home, which creates all new perils for employees. These dangers aren’t just for teacher’s employment but also for their pocketbook as many districts are planning on relying on employees to pay for lost, stolen, or destroyed technology.
Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of employer-provided technology are the “Technology Use” agreements that have become so common place that many people fail to even read them. Some districts are using these agreements, and the fact that people don’t really read them, to modify or expand the district’s right to go after the teacher for lost technology. You can never be required to sign a document that would modify your legal rights.
MNEA members who have questions about their district’s “Technology Use” policies, or anything that they are being asked to sign, should contact their UniServ Director immediately.
Social media has spread through society so quickly and thoroughly that it has created difficulties for a wide range of individuals. For employees, individuals must deal with the fact that private activities that only affected a few individuals can now be spread across the internet for all of the public, including their employers. For courts, judges must wrestle with fitting 21st century technology into an 18th century legal system with 20th century laws. For employers, new ways to monitor employees blur the lines between work and home and provide temptations for potentially discriminatory behavior.
The dangers to employees and employers are typified in two recent cases. In the first, an employee finds that she may not have been as serious as she thought when she posted on Facebook “FIRE ME . . . make my day. . . .” See Tasker Healthcare Group, d/b/a Skinsmart Dermatology, NLRB Div. of Advice, No. 4-CA-94222 (May 8, 2013) (thanks to Employment Law Matters, among others, for pointing this memo out). In the second case, an employer learned that even though it didn’t like what an employee posted, acting on it could be illegal. See Deneau v. Orkin, No. 11-00455-B (S.D. Ala. May 20, 2013) (thanks to the Ohio Employer’s Law Blog for pointing this case out).
Hit the jump for all the double-edged-sword goodness… Continue reading →
With the terrific title “Can’t Escape From the Memory” William A Herbert, the Deputy Chair of the New York Public Employment Relations Board, has created a thorough analysis of the interaction between social media use and public sector law. Part of my job is traveling around Missouri and educating public school employees about the legal, and practical, realities of using social media. Mr. Herbert’s paper does a great job of analyzing how social media use by public employees implicates free speech rights, privacy rights, and collective bargaining rights and is a must-read for public employees who regularly use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. Unfortunately, the only state-specific labor information is for New York, Michigan, and Florida, so public employees in Missouri will need to keep in mind that our legal structures here are a bit different.
Hit the jump for a brief analysis of the differences for Missourians and the paper’s official abstract. Continue reading →
Just in case you misread that title, we are talking about an employer who learned the hard way that social media doesn’t just ruin employees lives. It has gotten to the point that I am no longer surprised when an employee is facing termination (or worse) for something they did on social media (and if you are a public employee who tweets, facebooks, or is reading this very post during work time PLEASE STOP NOW!), so its nice to see The Employer Handbook Blog link to a Fair Labor Standards Act case where the employer’s social media use got them in all kinds of trouble.
Read on for all the Coyote Ugly details… Continue reading →