Social Networking at Work

Attorney Kelly Saindon, Belongia & Shapiro, LLP
August 11, 2009 Social networking sites are relatively new to many people and that has led to some trouble in the workplace.

What are the rules of using social networking sites while you're at the office.

Social networking has become problematic for younger generations because with the recent trends in reality TV many people forget that there needs to be a separation between work and pleasure. Your actions online may seem disconnected and private, but they can reflect poorly on you for years to come.

- Any employee can be fired for pictures, posts and tweets. Most employees are "at will" employees and can be terminated at any time, for any reason. Facebook and Twitter allow employers immediate access to areas of private life that may not have been immediately accessible before. While in Illinois employers are not required to give a reason for termination, many employers often cite misconduct to avoid paying unemployment or wrongful termination claims.

- There is a fine line between being work friends with your boss and allowing them to view your private life. If an employer sees that an employee was out drinking and the next day the employee's work performance is lacking, an employer will presume it is because of the drinks, regardless of whether that is accurate. Other social networking faux pas happen when employees call in sick and then their pictures, posts and tweets show they were actually at the beach or sporting event.

- Remember that potential employers are also using social networking to obtain information about potential hires. Social networking sites have taken then anonymity out of bad behavior, and the person you would like to portray in an interview is trumped by posted photos of you acting immature and inappropriate.

- If the pictures, posts or tweets are done while at work, there is no reasonable expectation of privacy. What's done on an employer's computer it is fair game. There is also the recent issue that too many employees are spending too much time while at work on these sites. That is a waste of company resources and, in most companies, grounds for termination.

- Here are some helpful guidelines:

o Treat social networking as an extension of your professional life; assume it is all being monitored.

o Do not post anything that you think can interfere with work.

o Keep interviews, complaints about long and boring meetings, complaints about coworkers, management, bosses, etc. off of social networking sites.

o Do not post any pictures that portray you in an unprofessional manner.

o If your friends and family are failing to follow these guidelines, keep your profiles private and be careful with whom you connect with.

About Kelly Saindon

Kelly Saindon is an Illinois an attorney from the law firm of Belongia & Shapiro, LLP. Saindon has represented countless clients in jury and bench trials and has won every single case. Saindon is most known for her defense of professional athletes, but she has also played a big role in employee discrimination civil litigation cases. Kelly Saindon has a passion for rectifying employee discrimination, and routinely works with the RainbowPUSH Coalition.

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