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Social Media Webinar: October 29








Social Media: From Hiring to Firing








Monday, October 29, 2012






Pacific: 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.  
12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.  


Mountain: 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.  
1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.  









When registering online, you will be prompted to sign in as a new or existing student.










You probably are aware of the recent imbroglio over the practice of some employers asking applicants for their passwords to access their private social media pages. Legal risk and bad employee relations. But that doesn’t mean that an employer may not legally benefit from reviewing the public profile of an applicant's social media page at the appropriate time and under the appropriate circumstances. Similarly, an employer ordinarily cannot discipline an employee for fulminating about the terms and conditions of their employment, unless they wish to tango with the NLRB. Conversely, an employer must take corrective action if an employee posts legally-protected information, for example, PHI under HIPAA. With regard to marketing, employers need to communicate that, when employees are promoting their products or services, they make clear their affiliation with their employer, even if the social media is “personal.” Conversely, however, employers also should make clear that, when employees are engaging in truly personal social media (for example, posting a political blog), they make explicit that they are not speaking for their employer (but without mentioning their employer by name). Supervisors should think twice before friending subordinates; they may learn more about them than if they looked in their medicine cabinets (not that we recommend that either). However, that does not mean that supervisors should not connect with subordinates in a professional network. By reviewing a subordinate’s social media activity, a supervisor may learn that a valued subordinate is considering alternative employment and have an opportunity to re-recruit her. Social media is not an “on-off” switch. There are business risks in ignoring it. There are legal risks in jumping in without thinking through how the use of social media could be argued to violate the actual or perceived rights of applicants or employees. This webinar focuses on the intersection between social media and the employment relationship. Recommendations will be made to maximize the business benefits while minimizing the legal risk.




Approved for CA, NY, NJ and PA CLE credit and HRCI credit.








Jonathan A. Segal

Pricing: $65 | $55.25 for Nonprofit






For more information on financial assistance, please contact
Deborah Margulies at or 215.979.1957.






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Did the NLRB Bless Employees Who Use Social Media to Defame? Sort of!

A manager gives an employee a final warning.  The employee is upset and tweets that her manager is a drug dealer. The employee knows her tweet is patently false but tweets anyway with malice.


Two employees compete for a job. The employee who does not get the job wants revenge. He posts on his Facebook page that his co-worker is a pedophile. The employee knows his Facebook posting is patently false; he maliciously posts it anyway.

 Both employees have engaged in defamation and probably should be fired for their malicious conduct.  Moreover, the victims of the defamation could sue these malicious employees and potentially recover not only compensatory but also punitive damages.

What if the employer addresses the issue proactively?  Isn't that what we all try to do? Avoid problems in the first instance. That's what Costco did. 

Costco  prohibited employees from using social media "to defame any individual or damage any person's reputation." Indeed, such a rule could not only avoid damages to the victims of venom but also save an employee's job to the extent it serves as a deterrent to wrongful conduct.

 So there is nothing wrong with the rule, unless you are on the NLRB. In its first decision on social media, the NLRB held the Costco rule violated section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA").

The Board acknowledged that the rule did not directly prohibit employees from carping about the terms and conditions of their employment. Instead, the NLRB held the rule reasonably would be constued by employees to prohibit the exercise of section 7 rights, and therefore, was unlawful.

Really? No!  But that is, sadly, the way the NLRB views the world.  So what do we do now (until the NLRB opinion, hopefully, is appealed and reversed)?

In finding the Costco rule unlawful, the NLRB impliedly suggested two ways an employer could avoid the same result.

First, the Board emphasized that Costco did not expressly exclude protected activity under section 7. The Board stated: "there is nothing in the rule that even arguably suggests that protected communications are excluded from the broad parameters of the rule."

So, contrary to some prior guidance from the Board's general counsel, "carve outs" may save a rule the NLRB otherwise might strike down.  But how robust must the carve out be? 

Also, if there is a carve out for protected activity under section 7, the employer does not want to suggest all concerted activity is protected. So does the employer attempt to draw a line between protected and unprotected concerted activity?

And, should not the carve out, if there were one, carve out from the carve out supervisors and managers? Afterall, they are not employees under the NLRA.

But they are covered by Title VII. So shouldn't we have a carve out for communications protected by Title VII? And what about other employment or whistleblower laws? More carve outs?

I guess it's no secret:  I am not wild about carve outs. 

Second, the Board says that the rule is narrow and does not address other wrongs,  such as postings which are  abusive, harassing, malicious or unlawful. The opinion suggests that, if the Costco prohibition on defamatory and disparaging postings had been a part of a broader list of horribles, the prohibition, seen in context,  may not have led a reasonable employee to believe it precludes concerted activity protected by section 7.

So before you gut your social media policy's prohibitions in this area, consider including a contextual framework for your rules on disparagement and defamation.  Include them among other "egregious conduct" so that you have "accompanying language" to serve as the potential  basis for a contextual defense.   This should minimize (not eliminate) your risk.

 The Board's decision is, I believe, not just wrong. It is sad.  It underestimates the intelligence of American workers and puts their reputations and potential livelihoods at risk in doing so. 





This blog should not be construed as legal advice, as pertaining to specific factual situations or as establishing an attorney-client relationship.









































Risks in Asking for Social Media Passwords (not Just in MD and ILL)

Maryland and Illinois became the first two states to prohibit employers from asking applicants or employees for their social media passwords.  Okay in the other 48 states?  NO!  Please see my recent blog for SHRM's We Know Next: Thankyou,



Hooked Up On Twitter (A CAUTIONARY TALE)


by Jonathan Segalon February 27, 2012

As published by SHRM's We Know Next:

I begin this cautionary blog with a story. After the story, you'll understand why I began the blog as I have.

I wrote an article on holiday parties for Business Week. I discussed the risks, including too much alcohol consumption and sexual harassment. Of course, the two often are connected.

Well, the article included a little sarcasm. Perhaps a little more than a little. So it was tweeted pretty heavily.

As you know, when people tweet, they can add their own message. As I learned later, one tweeter included the words party, alcohol and sexual. They forget the harassment. No Freudian miss there.

So one night I went to the movies and came home late (10 p.m. for me) and decided to go to bed without checking my e-mail. I try to do that twice a year to deceive myself into believing that I am mentally healthy.

The next morning, I logged on and noticed that I had many new Twitter followers. Twit that I am, I am very happy.

Until, I see the followers. They saw alcohol, sexual and party and were very interested.

But they were not interested in legal issues. They were selling sexual services, quite literally and explicitly.

I immediately sent messages: do not follow me. But I don't think Candy Cane is a big reader.

So, now I decided it was time to ratchet things up. I copied my bio (hoping a big law firm would intimidate) and, to my delight, they went away. I would like to think that it was the law firm and not the fact my bio has a picture!

After cleaning this up, I learned of a very important twitter feature: block. And, when it comes to social media it is a critical tool... beyond responding to sex workers.

All too often people tweet or follow and think more is better. Not always.

Social media is a form of communication. And, at the risk of the obvious, it is a two way street.

Check your followers and make sure there is no one you do not want following you. I have advised clients to do this, and they have found among their followers piranhas masquerading as plaintiff's lawyers. Block!

If you follow someone, read their tweets. If their tweets are offensive or unseemly, unfollow. I followed a reporter. I thought one of his tweets was sexist. Unfollow.

In social media, it is the quality of your relationships that counts, not the number of them.

Gotta go. Wrote a blog last month for WeKnowNext on Valentine's Day called  "I Love You." They're back!


Jonathan Segal will speak at the SHRM 2012 Employment Law & Legislative Conference on Tough Love: What Your CEO Won'tTell You About HR, But I Will and Inside the Mind of the State Rep. For more information, please click here.


Jonathan Segal

Business Ally. Help clients achieve business goals and manage legal risks. Areas of focus include: gender equality; wage and hour compliance; social media; leadership training; union avoidance; performance management; and agreements

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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.