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Social Media and Employment Law

Social media is the modern way of communication and is often used to create business contacts. Employees both in work and at home use Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter. The increased use of these forms of social media have led to issues arising for Employers.

Often employers are unsure how to deal with these issues when they arise. In order to protect your company there should be an Internet policy in place which covers Social media use. We advise both employees and employers of their legal rights and obligations.

Social Media Lawyers Glasgow

In the case of Otomewo v Carphone Warehouse, it was held by the Employment Tribunal that the Employer was liable for harassment on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Mr Otomewo was a manager at Carphone Warehouse. His colleagues used his phone to update his Facebook profile stating "Finally came out of the closet. I am gay and proud."

Although Mr Otomewo was not gay it was accepted by the Tribunal that such a comment caused him distress.

It was found by the Employment Tribunal that his colleagues' actions amounted to harassment on the grounds of sexual orientation and as it took place in the course of their employment, Carphone Warehouse was held liable.

This case clearly shows the requirement for a Social Media policy so that an Employer can demonstrate that they took all reasonable steps to avoid this situation arising.

Any social media policy must clearly set out what is acceptable behaviour. The way someone acts online will be treated as if it had been carried out offline. The fact that it was done by way of social media will not influence the final outcome.

What Should Employment Contracts Say About Social Media?

Who is the owner of social media contacts? The answer to this question relies on the wording of the employee's contract. If employers ask employees to "tweet" on behalf of the company then it should be clearly stated that any contacts made would be owned by the Employer. This means that when the Employee leaves the company they cannot take these contacts with them. This should be included as part of the Social Media Policy.

Another way to retain these contacts would be to have a restrictive covenant in the specific employee's contract of employment. This would provide some protection in relation to ownership of the contact. This clause would have to be very specifically worded for its purpose.

Internet policies should be regularly kept up to date due to the progression of social media.

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