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Social Media and the Law with Andrew Rosenman, partner, Mayer Brown Law Firm - Chicago
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Social Media and the Law with Andrew Rosenman, partner, Mayer Brown Law Firm - Chicago


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Social Media and the Law with Andrew Rosenman, partner, Mayer Brown Law Firm - Chicago at Social Media Rockstar 2 in De Pere on June 2, 2011

Social Media and the Law with Andrew Rosenman, partner, Mayer Brown Law Firm - Chicago at Social Media Rockstar 2 in De Pere on June 2, 2011

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  • 1. Employment Law Issues inSocial Media Andrew Rosenman Partner, Chicago +1 312 701 8744 arosenman@mayerbrown.comMayer Brown is a global legal services organization comprising legal practices that are separate entities ("Mayer Brown Practices"). The Mayer Brown Practices are: Mayer Brown LLP, a limited liability partnership established in the United States;Mayer Brown International LLP, a limited liability partnership incorporated in England and Wales; Mayer Brown JSM, a Hong Kong partnership, and its associated entities in Asia; and Tauil & Chequer Advogados, a Brazilian law partnership with whichMayer Brown is associated. "Mayer Brown" and the Mayer Brown logo are the trademarks of the Mayer Brown Practices in their respective jurisdictions.
  • 2. Why Should Employers Be Vigilant AboutSocial Media?Significant public relations, liability and legal repercussions can arisein the employment context from the explosive growth of social media: 2
  • 3. Email 2.0Legal Issues re email Legal Issues re Social Media• More communication • Lifecasting• More informal • Blurring the lines between communication (led to public and private, business issues) and personal• Retention issues • Whose information is it?• After some growing pains, • Who needs to retain it? companies got control 3
  • 4. Same Legal Principles• At the stage where old rules are being applied to a new technology—uncertainty• New risks—legal and otherwise – Consumers have as loud a voice as advertisers – Employees have as a loud a voice as employers• Companies face external issues (e.g., what company and its employees are saying to the world)• Companies face internal issues (e.g., how are employees using Social Media) 4
  • 7. Screening Candidates• Employers often differ in how they handle social media in screening candidates, even within the same industry – October 2010 informal survey• Some employers find it useful to search social media sites to screen candidates—and many others plan to do so• Can find some great information – Personality – Integrity – Communication style 7
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  • 9. But Be Careful …• Can also find information that is protected by Title VII and various state laws – Age, race, national origin, sexual orientation – Religious beliefs – Marital status – Pregnancy – Political affiliations – Information about disabilities• Can’t be basis of the decision—and need to be able to prove that 9
  • 10. Recommendations• Non-decision maker screen—pass along form with only appropriate information• Keep records associated with hiring decisions (Title VII)— including print-outs of SM pages and the resulting forms• Disclose to applicants that SM pages may be searched• Treat all applicants consistently (i.e., don’t only search SM pages of a certain applicant category)• Careful what sites are searched: – Fair Credit Reporting Act prohibits employers from getting criminal history from “consumer reporting agency” without the subject’s notice and consent—and employer relying on an consumer reporting agency’s report must give adverse action notice – Some search engines have been accused of being a “consumer reporting agency” 10
  • 12. Some Considerations for Employers• Consider specific corporate culture and social media – Ban it during work hours? Encourage it? Remain neutral? – Impact on employee morale?• Benefits to company of social media use by employees – May help promote brand recognition and marketing – Increased contact with customers, sales, and PR• Business and legal risks of social media use by employees – Disclosure of business plans/strategies, financial data, etc. – Can damage reputations – Privacy issues, false advertising, regulatory requirements 12
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  • 16. Should You Monitor Current EmployeeActivity?• Some reasons to do it – Make sure use of social media is not interfering with work – Make sure employees are following company policies• May help prevent false advertising claims when employees comment on the company or its business – FTC Guideline (16 CFR § 255): liability for failing to disclose material connections with endorsers• Monitoring use on company time less problematic 16
  • 17. But Caution Should Be Taken If MonitoringOccurs• Many states don’t allow adverse employment actions for legal off-duty conduct (e.g., California, Colorado, New York, North Dakota) – Could lead to invasion of privacy claims and class actions (blurred line) – Risk of discrimination, retaliation and whistleblower claims• State statutes addressing electronic monitoring – Connecticut and Delaware require notice to employees in advance of monitoring computer usage and work e-mails. – California, Colorado, Indiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Utah require employers to obtain consent before monitoring.• Common law right to privacy 17
  • 18. Stored Communications Act• 18 U.S.C. § 2701 sets forth penalties for anyone who: – Intentionally accesses without authorization a facility through which an electronic communication service is provided• Stored Communications Act (SCA) arguably prohibits employers from monitoring employees’ online activity without proper authorization• Employees may claim that information was gained through misrepresentations or other unlawful means, e.g., ghost accounts – Pietrylo v. Hillstone Restaurant Group, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88702 (D.N.J. 2009) (jury verdict upheld under SCA) 18
  • 20. What About References (e.g., LinkedIn)?• Former (or current) employees may ask for a reference – “Grade inflation” and/or sweeping endorsements about skills – Risk that statements will be inconsistent with termination, litigation, or discipline positions that employer takes• Trend in best practices: policy against allowing employees to endorse or recommend on LinkedIn or other sites – Beware of set up for defamation or pretext claim – At minimum, require supervisors to consult with HR first• Restrictive Covenants/Non-solicitation/Non-Competition – TEKsystems, Inc. v. Hammernik – (D. Minn. 2010) former employee contacts former co-workers and clients for rival firm through LinkedIn – Draft restrictive covenants to include social media 20
  • 22. Why Have Social Media Policy? When the right Provide the tools choices are made, to make the right opportunities are choices when maximized & inevitably engaged reputational & in social media legal risk are mitigated 22
  • 23. Social Media Policy Fundamentals• Focus: Customized to specific business needs; focus on content, not access• Owner: Will vary, but typically will involve legal, communications, compliance, HR, technology• Who: Applies to all employees in all business lines and across all subsidiaries and affiliates; consider agents and contractors• When: Applies while using social media both at work and outside of work when communications and activities directly or indirectly relate to the company, or when the individual’s relationship with the company is known, identifiable or can be presumed• How: Design policy to work with other complementary policies (conduct, internet usage, communications, privacy, confidentiality, employment) & training 23
  • 24. Recommendations, Part 1• Adopt a social media policy with specific guidance on what is, and what is not, permissible, which will provide clarity to employees – Minimizes potential impact of ambiguities • Stengart v. Loving Care Agency, Inc. (“As written, the Policy creates ambiguity about whether personal e-mail use is company or private property”) • City of Ontario v. Quon (“employer policies concerning communications will of course shape the reasonable expectations of their employees, especially to the extent that such policies are clearly communicated”)• Ensure that the policy states that the company may monitor all uses of workplace computers, including use of social media. Disclose if monitoring personal devices.• Expressly incorporate other key policies (e.g., discrimination, harassment, confidentiality, non-disparagement, technology, codes of conduct) 24
  • 25. Recommendations, Part 2• Check the scope of applicable off-duty conduct laws before taking action – Unflattering conduct (e.g., video of drunken behavior) might not be grounds for disciplinary action• Provide repeated training and reminders about the policy• Remember the 21st Century proverb: “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas on MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, etc.”• Make clear who can and cannot speak on the company’s behalf – Stress importance of refraining from creating appearance that employees may be speak on behalf of company; consider disclaimer language – Prohibit anonymity; employees must disclose who they work for when commenting on company or its business• Don’t be afraid to revisit social media policies; business needs may change 25
  • 26. Recommendations, Part 3• Inform employees about approved procedures and company policies regarding endorsements of company products• Explain the risks of false advertising associated with company products, as well as potential defamation of competitors• Preclude use of company logos, likenesses, images and trademarks without the company’s written consent• Prohibit employees from including references to company clients, customers, and partners without their written consent• Require employees to sign acknowledgments of receipt of the policy• If necessary and appropriate (e.g. securities industry), ensure policy informs employees if off-duty use will be monitored (should decrease reasonable expectation of privacy)• FINRA Regulatory Notice 10-06 (addresses use of SM for business purposes) 26
  • 27. Smart Phone Policies• Employers are increasingly allowing employees to use their personal smart phones for corporate use. In doing so, they should insist on certain precautions: – Workers must use the password feature on their phone to protect any work emails or attachments – If a phone is lost or stolen or an employee leaves, the employer is allowed to erase the phone remotely – For companies subject to HIPAA rules, there is software to carve out a part of an employee’s device strictly for corporate use which, among other things, doesn’t allow attachments to be forwarded and can erase information remotely 27
  • 28. National Labor Relations Board Sets Limits on SocialMedia Policies Even for Non-Union Employers• National Labor Relations Act gives workers a right to form unions and prohibits employers from punishing workers, whether union or nonunion, for discussing working conditions or unionization• In The Matter Of American Medical Response Of Connecticut, Inc. – Employee fired for criticizing boss on Facebook. Government prosecuted and demanded change to blogging and Internet policy – employees are permitted to criticize the company on blog and Internet.• New York Newspapers Guild & Thomson Reuters – Reporter sent tweet to Reuters -- “one way to make this the best place to work is to deal honestly with guild members” and was verbally disciplined. NLRB prepared to issue complaint against Reuters. Company agreed to new policy “to protect employee speech.” 28
  • 29. Contact Information Andrew Rosenman Partner, Chicago +1 312 701 8744 arosenman@mayerbrown.comTo request a copy of “The Social Media Revolution: A LegalHandbook,” please Mayer Brown on Twitter: us on Facebook: 29