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Potential Pitfalls of Online Relationships Between Supervisors and their Employees

Employers grappling with social media issues often ask whether it is advisable to permit employees to friend each other on Facebook, or connect on other social media sites.  While it makes sense to typically avoid prohibiting friendships among rank-and-file employees (which could violate the National Labor Relations Act), social media interaction between supervisors and their subordinates can be more complicated.  In these cases, it is important to recognize that a supervisor’s decision to connect with his or her subordinates via social media may result in inappropriate or unexpected disclosures.  This can be a problem for two reasons. First, an employee’s social media activity may reveal the employee’s religion, national origin, disability, or other protected characteristic.  A supervisor who inadvertently discovers this information online may later be accused of unlawfully making employment decisions based on this knowledge.  Second, as the employer in Peer v. F5 Networks learned, employees whose social media… Continue Reading

April 2012
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