As we mentioned earlier this month on our San Diego employment law blog, social media users are protected under new employment laws that went into effect on Jan. 1 in California. Under new laws regarding social media use and employee privacy issues, it is now illegal for employers to request or require passwords and login information to have access to job applicants' and employees' personal social media accounts.
Social media allows Americans to stay connected and to communicate with others from all over the world at any given time. Although folks should certainly feel empowered to share their beliefs, they must also be careful in how they do so. Social media can have a negative impact on lives. In California and throughout the U.S., social media has been used against people in criminal cases and it has also been the cause for some divorces. Social media may even cost workers their jobs.
Earlier this year on our San Diego employment law blog, we had mentioned that California lawmakers were pushing for better privacy protections for employees and job applicants regarding social media accounts and personal email accounts.
Can Facebook comments get you fired? Employees in San Diego and around the country are advised to be careful when they use social media, just in case bosses or colleagues are sneaking a peek at their activity. Laws can sometimes protect private sector workers from prying employers, but legal advisors still urge caution in order to avoid being fired.
A recent explosion of controversy has erupted concerning employers requesting to see their employees' or job applicants' private profile information on social media sites in order to make hiring or promotion decisions. While this practice may not seem entirely ethical, there are currently no laws to protect California employees and job applicants from being discriminated against for refusing to hand over their passwords and social media account information to employers.
We have mentioned before on our San Diego employment law attorney blog that more employers in the U.S. are using social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to learn more about job applicants as well as current employees. In some cases, postings, pictures and status updates have resulted in employees being fired, athletes losing endorsements and job seekers being denied employment.
Social media has certainly had an effect on employment law issues over the past few years as more individuals use social media websites on a daily basis for personal and professional purposes. Celebrities and professional athletes have lost contracts as a result of their comments on Facebook and Twitter, and lawsuits have been filed by employees who have lost their jobs or been denied jobs as a result of what employers discovered on these social media sites. But can employees and potential employees in California and throughout the entire U.S. be disciplined or fired for their "private" comments on social media sites?
A union that represents 44,000 teachers has challenged a new state law that it says overly restricts teachers' online use. This new law was passed in Missouri, not California, but brings up important issues related to the rights of employees. The law was created in order to prevent sexual predation of students by teachers.
Last week, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and a private employer settled a case involving social media and employment law, one that may begin to define the rules for what employees can say online and how employers may or may not restrict that speech. The case settled last week involved a woman who was fired from an ambulance company after she posted negative comments about her boss on the social networking website, Facebook.
The previous two posts discussed how more and more employment law cases going before the courts involve social media. This week, an NLRB judge is set to hear the NLRB's first complaint involving social media. As an increasing amount of these complaints go before judges, more case law will be established in this relatively new area of law. For now, employers are treading tricky ground when they follow their employees into social media spaces.