Docs #599290 V1 Pjt Web 2 0 Cle


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Exploring the intersections of social networking and employment law. Presentation at Thomson Reuters on June 10, 2011.

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Docs #599290 V1 Pjt Web 2 0 Cle

  1. 1. MySpace – MySelf: Cautionary Cases from the “Cloud” Phillip J. Trobaugh and Scott Cody
  2. 2. Web 2.0 <ul><li>Facebook </li></ul><ul><li>MySpace </li></ul><ul><li>Twitter </li></ul><ul><li>YouTube </li></ul><ul><li>LinkedIn </li></ul><ul><li>Plus: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Blogs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Text messaging </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Web 2.0 Prevalence <ul><li>Facebook users: </li></ul><ul><li>Tweets per day: </li></ul><ul><li>Worldwide online time spent on Web 2.0: </li></ul><ul><li>Corporate employees who use their Facebook account at work: </li></ul><ul><li>Minnesota households with no landline: </li></ul><ul><li>Minnesota households with only a landline: </li></ul><ul><li>400+ million </li></ul><ul><li>50 million </li></ul><ul><li>22% (110 billion minutes) </li></ul><ul><li>77% </li></ul><ul><li>25% </li></ul><ul><li>9% </li></ul>Sources: (4/20/11) (1/19/10) (10/9/09)
  4. 4. Employee Termination for Web 2.0 Misconduct Many recent examples:
  5. 5. The Curious Case of Candace Yath Yath v. Fairview Clinics, N.P. 767 N.W.2d 34 (Minn. Ct. App. 2009) <ul><li>Candace Yath went to a medical appointment in March 2006 at Fairview Cedar Ridge Clinic in Apple Valley </li></ul><ul><li>An in-law worked at the clinic and searched her medical records </li></ul>
  6. 6. Yath v. Fairview Clinics, N.P. <ul><li>Found that Yath had acquired an STD from someone other than her husband </li></ul><ul><li>Created a MySpace page to broadcast the information </li></ul><ul><li>Fairview fired the in-law </li></ul><ul><li>Yath sued Fairview: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Invasion of privacy (publication of private facts) and other claims </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Yath v. Fairview Clinics, N.P. <ul><li>Is there “publicity” when a MySpace page is available for only 1-2 days and viewed by only 6 people? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Yes </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Is a MySpace page without password protection a “private communication?” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Yath v. Fairview Clinics, N.P. <ul><li>However, no direct liability </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Yath could not show that Fairview was involved in creating the MySpace page </li></ul></ul><ul><li>And no vicarious liability ( respondeat superior ): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Yath presented no evidence that the wrongful access and dissemination of private medical information … was foreseeable.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>What about social networking misconduct in the future or outside of the medical records context? </li></ul></ul></ul>
  9. 9. NLRB’s Stance: Worker Protection <ul><li>Facebook posting is “protected concerted activity,” meaning employer cannot retaliate because employee discussed the “terms and conditions of employment” </li></ul>
  10. 10. NLRB Sided With: <ul><li>BMW salesman who complained on Facebook about Sam's Club hot dogs and bottled water at a promotional event – “no way to hype a luxury car” </li></ul><ul><li>Nonprofit employee who complained that coworkers didn’t do enough to help clients </li></ul><ul><li>Ambulance service employee who posted critical, if explicit and derogatory, comments about her supervisor </li></ul><ul><li>Sources: </li></ul><ul><li> (5/24/2011) </li></ul><ul><li> (5/19/2011) </li></ul><ul><li> (11/3/2010) </li></ul>
  11. 11. Using Workplace Property <ul><li>“ Husband and Wife Get Fired Over YouTube Video” </li></ul><ul><li>Arkansas TV news reporter played “a frustrated news reporter who hates his job, thinks people in Arkansas are stupid, and is desperately trying to find another job” </li></ul><ul><li>His wife, a weekend anchor, played his boss </li></ul><ul><li>The weekend sports anchor also appeared in the video </li></ul>
  12. 12. Using Workplace Property <ul><li>“ Security Guard Who Put Fountain Fall Online Gets Fired ” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Woman, walking through mall while texting on her cell phone, accidentally fell into a fountain </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Security guard copied the video and posted it on YouTube </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Reflecting Poorly on the Employer <ul><li>&quot;Queen of Sky: Diary of a Dysfunctional Flight Attendant“ </li></ul>Source:
  14. 14. Reflecting Poorly on the Employer <ul><li>“ Employee fired for using 'F word' in Chrysler tweet” </li></ul><ul><li>Employee of Chrysler’s social media agency accidentally used @ChryslerAutos Twitter account and tweeted: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>&quot;I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f*%^&ing drive.” </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Chrysler also declined to renew the agency’s contract. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Reflecting Poorly on the Employer <ul><li>“ New England Patriots Cheerleader Caitlin Davis Fired Over Facebook Pictures” </li></ul>
  16. 16. Reflecting Poorly on the Employer <ul><li>“ Surprised Employer Fires Sex Blogger” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Her boss said the organization couldn't be associated with anyone who was posting graphic images or erotica.” </li></ul>
  17. 17. Reflecting Poorly on the Employer <ul><li>“ City Moves to Give Sex Teacher the Hook” </li></ul><ul><li>Tenured Bronx art teacher blogged about her past as a stripper and Craigslist prostitute </li></ul><ul><li>Charged with “conduct unbecoming a teacher” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Mayor Bloomberg personally ordered the tattooed teacher out of the classroom.” </li></ul>
  18. 18. Reflecting Poorly on the Employer <ul><li>Barrow teacher fired over Facebook still not back in classroom </li></ul>Source: Source:
  19. 19. Criticizing the Boss Source:
  20. 20. Lying to the Boss <ul><li>“ Bank intern busted by Facebook” </li></ul>Source:!321802/your-privacy-is-an-illusion/bank-intern-busted-by-facebook
  21. 21. Lying to the Boss <ul><li>“ Swiss Woman Fired for Using Facebook While Sick” </li></ul>
  22. 22. Limits to Employer Surveillance <ul><li>Pietrylo v. Hillstone Restaurant Group , No. 06-5754, 2009 WL 3128420 (D. N.J. Sept. 25, 2009) </li></ul><ul><li>Restaurant workers created MySpace page requiring password and invitation to access </li></ul><ul><li>Posts included: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sexual remarks about management and customers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Jokes about restaurant customer service and quality specifications </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>References to violence and illegal drug use </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A copy of a new wine test that was to be given to the employees </li></ul></ul>
  23. 23. Pietrylo v. Hillstone Restaurant Group (cont.) <ul><li>Managers coerced an employee into giving them authorization for the page; they then fired the workers </li></ul><ul><li>Managers liable for violation of Stored Communications Act </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Workers awarded compensatory and 4X punitive damages </li></ul></ul>
  24. 24. Policing Policies <ul><li>Whether to permit social networking at work at all? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Benefits of business-related networking vs. Risks of negative portrayal </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Monitoring employees’ use </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Clear definition of “appropriate business behavior” </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Social networking activity away from work </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Make employees aware of clear policies </li></ul></ul>
  25. 25. Privacy: City of Ontario, Cal. v. Quon 130 S. Ct. 2619 (2010) <ul><li>Government employer (police department) provided employees with pagers that could be used to send/receive text messages </li></ul><ul><li>Department reserved right to monitor and log all use, with or without notice </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Users should have no expectation of privacy or confidentiality when using these resources” </li></ul></ul>
  26. 26. City of Ontario, Cal. v. Quon <ul><li>Supervisor reviewed Quon’s pager transcripts and discovered that a large majority of the messages sent and received were not work related, and many were sexually explicit </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Department disciplined Quon </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Quon sued, alleging the search violated his 4 th Amendment rights </li></ul></ul>
  27. 27. City of Ontario, Cal. v. Quon <ul><li>Issue: Assuming* </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(1) Quon had a reasonable expectation of privacy in his text messages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(2) The department's review of the text message transcript was a search, and </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(3) Government employer’s intrusion upon employee’s electronic privacy is analyzed by same principles as when government employer searches employee’s physical office </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Whether the 4 th Amendment applies to text messages on a public employee’s employer-issued pager </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>* Not decided </li></ul></ul>
  28. 28. City of Ontario, Cal. v. Quon <ul><li>Test for warrantless search by government employer (from O’Connor v. Ortega (U.S. 1987) : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Search must be conducted: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>For a noninvestigatory, work-related purpose, or </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>For the investigation of work-related misconduct </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Search is reasonable if: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>It is “justified at its inception,” and </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The measures adopted are reasonably related to the objectives of the search, and </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The measures are not excessively intrusive in light of the circumstances giving rise to the search </li></ul></ul></ul>
  29. 29. City of Ontario, Cal. v. Quon <ul><li>Other factors: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Quon could not reasonably expect that his messages would be immune from scrutiny due to Department’s use policy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>As a police officer, Quon should have expected that his actions could come under scrutiny </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Search was not nearly as intrusive as a search of Quon’s personal e-mail account or pager, or a wiretap on his home phone line </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Department’s search excluded text messages sent outside work hours </li></ul></ul>
  30. 30. Lessons from Quon <ul><li>Intent behind an investigation is crucial when the search intrudes upon employee privacy </li></ul><ul><li>Employer communications policies shape employees’ reasonable expectations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>And those policies should not be undermined by inconsistent oral statements </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Fact patterns matter in privacy cases </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How technology and our use of it evolve will affect workplace norms and privacy expectations </li></ul></ul>
  31. 31. 10 Tips on Avoiding Web 2.0 Legal Problems
  32. 32. 10 Tips on Avoiding Web 2.0 Legal Problems <ul><li>Establish policies and inform employees about company expectations regarding: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Content of online posts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Confidential information & trade secrets </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>References to co-workers, managers, customers, or anyone else </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use of the company's logos, marks and other intellectual property </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No right to privacy as to company’s systems </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use of disclaimers (i.e. opinions are not company’s) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Install effective filtering/blocking software </li></ul><ul><li>Do not allow managers/supervisors to “friend” subordinates </li></ul><ul><li>Limit investigations to publicly-available information </li></ul><ul><li>Discipline employees who violate the policies – but be careful for protected activity! </li></ul>