The purpose of this paper is to analyse social media issues that give rise to employment-related legal and ethical dilemmas, with reference made to recent case law development, and offer recommendations for employers and employees.
Prior research, statistical trends, and case laws are reviewed.
Employers using social media for employment decisions may risk crossing the lines of discrimination, infringement on personal privacy, and/or interference with employees’ concerted activities protected by US law. However, employers not using social media may face negligent hiring and damages for improper employee messages posted. For employees, while social media provides a connection tool, messages posted off-duty and thought to be “private” may still be used as evidence in support of disciplinary actions.
Employers, employees, and their unions must be cognizant of the ethical and legal implications of using social media in the employment context, and the latest developments in the privacy rights, human rights, labour relations rights, and contractual rights. Concerns about power shift need to be addressed.
Social media growth has blurred the boundary between work and private lives. With employers able to monitor employees’ social media activities almost at all times, this has implications for the overall power and control. On the other hand, employees may find social media offering another voice channel that can also potentially increase their power to some extent.
Social media is a fast developing area with new case laws emerging regarding its use in the employment context. The paper provides a systemic review of the issues and latest developments.
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