Ebony: Q & A Cubicle – Social Media Issues and Work Place Management (September 2010)

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Question: I’m a manager, and I know that members of my staff are bashing me on
Twitter and Facebook. They think I don’t know, but I do. Can I report them?

Answer: First of all, the supervisor should report it up the chain of command to the
boss. Next, it is important that an employer put in place a defined social-media
policy; it will be the foundation upon which discipline can be issued.
An
employer can run into difficulties if [it] tries to discipline employees in the
absence of a social-media policy.

The employee needs to be advised to cease and desist any activity that can be
defamatory to the company, its employees or customers. If that person decides
not to follow the warning, then the employer needs to decide whether it has the
right to terminate.

Such misuse of social media can be just as devastating if not more to small
businesses. If you have a two- to three-person shop and one of [your employees]
is [bad-mouthing] you… it’s smart to put these policies in place.

Finally, some employees use social media to harass and criticize co-workers,
which can have detrimental consequences. If employee A is intimidating employee
B on Facebook and I become aware of it, it’s potentially a hostile work
environment when we come together every morning. If nothing is done, the
employer may be exposing itself to a claim. Employers can’t ignore these things.

–Atty. Eugene Pettis, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is a managing partner with
Haliczer, Pettis & Schwamm. He specializes in workplace issues and social-media
management.