- Employers should clearly spell out their social media policies, especially in areas such as medical privacy and the Family and Medical Leave Act, according to a Legal News Wire article.
- A recent federal court ruled in favor in an employer on a lawsuit filed by a nursing home activity director. The lawsuit alleged that the employer, Accentia Health and Rehabilitation Center of Tampa Bay, Florida, fired him over his taking medical leave.
- Due to shoulder surgery, the activity director took non-medical time off beyond the 12 weeks allowed by FMLA. While on leave, though, he posted Facebook photos of himself swimming and hanging out on the beach while vacationing in Florida. He was fired for abusing company policy on social media and the court agreed.
In the case, the employee's manager testified that the employee was terminated “due to the poor judgment Plaintiff exhibited as a supervisor and the negative impact that his Facebook posts and text messages had among the associates at Accentia Health,” according to the court transcript.
The employer’s social media policy clearly spelled out that any social media usage that "adversely affects job performance of fellow associates, residents, family members, people who work on behalf of (Accentia) or violates the (health) privacy law may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.” The court found that the employee crossed that line.
Eric Goldman, a professor at the Santa Clara University School of Law in California, told Legal Newsline that even with this case, employers must be cautious when observing online conduct by an employee because they could face legal issues for disciplining an employee as a result of such posts. For example, if a social media post (or even a Facebook "like") is related to workplace grievances and/or union activity, the discipline might be illegal.