Social media has really taken the world by storm over the last decade or so. With employers, employees, clients and customers all having access to the same social media outlets, it can be particularly embarrassing for some when social media is misused. In terms of a corporate organization, employees may misuse social media in such a way that it not only embarrasses the company as a whole, but it puts the company at risk of legal consequences. When an employee misuses social media by posting something offensive or inappropriate, how do you handle it? Here are three things to do to help you hopefully avoid unnecessary, expensive litigation:
1. Consult Your Social Media Policy in the Company Handbook.
Your first step should be setting up a time to meet with the employee, during which time you should turn to the social media policy in the company handbook. If you don't have a policy, then it is time to get one. In today's day and age, as an employer, you will want to literally spell out what can and cannot be said on social media accounts. You will also want to include the potential consequences for disobeying the company policy. Since it is so important that this policy is conveyed to your employees properly, it may be in your best interest to hire a professional to draft the wording of the policy. For professional legal advice, contact an attorney such as Strauss Troy.
2. Protect Other Employees and Your Clients.
There is such a thing as a harmless joke, and it is a lot different that an inappropriate comment that creates an unnecessary hostile environment or that constitutes discrimination in some way. In an attempt to maintain the most respectful working conditions while avoiding civil lawsuits, you will need to discipline employees who fail to follow the rules that you have set forth for the company. If an employee makes a comment that attacks individuals based on their gender, religion, race or even sexual orientation, you must take the appropriate method of retaliation. That is exactly why employees have been fired in the past for making anti-Muslim comments and jokes about AIDS. Make sure your employees know that if they post offensive content online that they will be reprimanded accordingly.
3. Inform Your Clients, Customers and Other Employees Of Your Position.
While it is important to properly punish the employee who misused their social media, it is just as important to ensure that your clients, customers and other employees know that you've taken a stance on the matter. After all, it is very unlikely that no one noticed what happened. Everyone should be aware that you do not condone this particular type of behavior, you have taken action, and you have already implanted steps to ensure that something like this does not occur again.
Social media and employees can be a tricky situation. However, it is crucial that you take the time to understand where the line is drawn for the sake of your company. Consult with a corporate attorney to help you craft your policy regarding social media misuse and to get answers to any questions that you may have regarding the misuse of social media by employees.