The privacy of your employees is important and employers have to be very careful. This includes social media accounts. Most employers know that they should not ask for login information of an employee. But what exactly does the law state regarding social media employee checks? It depends, in part, on the privacy laws of your state. It also depends on whether you’re conducting an inquiry on an existing employee or a new employee.
Social Media Background Checks for Pre-Employment
Hiring new employees? You can run a social media background check but you must get permission from the prospect before you do so. This is mandatory per FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act). Some states also require specific disclosures as well. An FCRA compliant third party company will review and flag social media content in four business related categories:
- Racist, Sexist, or Discriminatory Behavior
- Sexually Explicit Material
- Threats or Acts of Violence
- Potentially Illegal Activity
Social Media Privacy Laws in Employment: 50-State Survey
It is important to understand the privacy laws when it pertains to social media by state as well. There is no federal law preventing employers from asking for employees’ or applicants’ social media usernames and passwords, or requiring employees or applicants to share any social media information that is not publicly available. However, a little over half of the states have enacted laws to protect employees and applicants in this situation. (Justica.com)
Workplace Harassment and Social Media
Most employers don’t even realize that they may be liable for workplace harassment online. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) is a federal law that was enacted in 1935 to protect the rights of employees and employers and to encourage collective bargaining. Enforced by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the law protects the rights of employees to act together to address work conditions, whether or not they are part of a union. The protection covers work-related conversations conducted on social media.
An example of this is any publicly available post in social media in which a co-worker is being sexually harassed or placing derogatory statements away from the workplace. It is tough to keep a handle on it. One of the first lines of defense is to develop a workplace social media policy. Make sure all employees are aware of what it states.
Examples of social media violations in the workplace
Social media violations in the workplace can encompass a wide range of behaviors that are inappropriate, unprofessional, or potentially harmful to the work environment. Here are some examples:
Sharing Confidential Information: Posting sensitive company information, trade secrets, financial data, or proprietary information on social media platforms without authorization.
Harassment and Bullying: Using social media to target, harass, or bully colleagues, supervisors, or other individuals within or outside the organization.
Discriminatory Remarks: Making discriminatory comments, including those related to race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or other protected characteristics, which can create a hostile work environment.
Defamation and Libel: Making false or damaging statements about the company, coworkers, or management that could harm their reputation or result in legal consequences.
Negative Publicity: Sharing negative opinions, complaints, or criticism about the company, products, or services, which could potentially harm the company’s image or business relationships.
Social Media Deep Web Scan
There may be times when you need to conduct some research into an employee. Perhaps their behavior at work is sending up some red flags, or you see a difference in their attitude towards fellow employees.
This is the time HR should get involved and perhaps take a closer look at what is publicly available online. At eChatter, a division of Ann Michaels & Associates, we offer this service to our clients. We work with Corporations, Private Investigators and Attorneys across the US.
We offer two types of scans, but for this purpose we would recommend a deep web scan. This is your best bet, especially when dealing with potential theft of services or goods for reselling purposes.
Contact us for more information.