Don’t Forget to Update Your Web-Use Policy

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

There has been a lot of buzz surrounding the use of social networks, i.e., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.,  in the workplace recently.  This is a great reminder to all organizations to take a look at their current Web-use policies and update them.

Reuters covered a recent seminar put on by LeClairRyanon covering “Key Issues in Labor & Employment Law,” where the importance of a policy for social networks was discussed.  The speaker, Joseph P. Paranac, a shareholder in LeClairRyan’s Labor and Employment Group, stated, “Inappropriate and unwise use of online social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter is a growing source of liability risk for employers, including discrimination, defamation and retaliation claims.”

He went on to offer some Web-use policy suggestions for employers.

“In order to have a successful policy on the use of social networking sites, Paranac told the audience, employers should stipulate that:

  • Employees may not comment or use any confidential information about the employer or discuss internal matters.
  • Use of online social networks should be limited to non-working hours, unless the use is for legitimate business purposes.
  • Employees’ comments should not be discriminatory or harassing.
  • Similarly, they should not be disparaging or defamatory to the employer’s business.

The veteran attorney also offered the following elements of a successful Internet and e-mail policy:

  • Employees should be trained on electronic communications equipment parameters and prohibitions.
  • All business systems and company-issued electronic communication equipment and data belong to the employer.
  • Systems and equipment must be used for appropriate and lawful business purposes only.
  • Employee use is subject to review/monitoring by the employer and employees who use employer equipment have no expectation of privacy.
  • Use of systems and equipment for harassment, discrimination, or defamation is strictly prohibited.
  • Disclosure of employer confidential information is strictly prohibited.
  • Warn employees of the penalties or policy violations.
  • Obtain a signed acknowledgment of employee receipt of policy.
  • Include a procedure for reporting violations.
  • Enforce the policy!”

Read the full article: TWEET: ‘I’m About to Testify in My Defamation Case!’