The world is becoming increasingly online. We can now communicate, accomplish tasks,
take photos and videos, enjoy ourselves, and conduct business all from the palm of our hands. When we have an idea or an opinion that we want to express, we can do it almost instantaneously by clicking "Post to Feed."
While this is a fantastic thing, social media can also be harmful.
Both employers and employees use social media to interact and discuss their personal life and work, and lawyers have noticed an increase in legal disputes arising from this trend.
The question these days is: how far is too far when it comes to discussing employment and companies? What kinds of speech are protected? Could internet comments start a legal fire for your company?
How do you stay away from that?
Lawyers advise prudence when conversing online. Let's dissect it.
What types of expression are protected online?
Employees have a common notion that they can post whatever they want and be protected by the First Amendment. False. At employment, your right to free expression is limited.
In fact, the First Amendment and the National Labor Relations Act only protect particular situations. For instance, discussing your religion, speaking on public concerns, and other special situations.
The online environment is a unique playground. You have the right to publish information about your pay, working conditions, and hours on the internet.
Threats, racial epithets, or other hate speech, harassment, or exposing trade secrets or confidential information about a corporation, however, are not protected under federal law. Employers have the right to look into your social media to guarantee that their personal information remains private.
In other circumstances, when an employee posts defamatory things online against their employer, or a competitor if it appears they're speaking on behalf of the company, unpleasant legal difficulties might ensue.
Employees (or ex-employees) frequently submit false evaluations about the organization on sites like Google or Glassdoor, which might backfire.
While each situation is different, the point is that there are a plethora of things that may go wrong online, and there are legal ramifications that can be costly. Even if the matter has no legal implications for you, it can harm your reputation.
The value of boundaries
To avoid employees disclosing confidential information or trade secrets, lawyers recommend having a firm social media policy in place that defines what employees can and cannot discuss publicly online.
Lawyers, on the other hand, advise proceeding with caution and establishing particular standards for legal reasons. When an employer is overly forceful in regulating what employees can and cannot say about them, disagreements might occur.
The increased number of trials
Defamation is no longer limited to periodicals and newspapers. Defamatory words made on social media have become more common in recent years.
Lawyers warn both employees and employers that social media difficulties can turn into legal issues and that knowing your rights is crucial.
Consult an attorney about your social media rights.
Social media is becoming increasingly common among all generations, and it's vital to know your rights before using it. Every time you post, think about the implications of making your thoughts public because that stuff never truly disappears. Contact LegalShield for advice.