In the article, “Do's & Don'ts For Policing Workers' Off-Duty Social Media Use,” Faegre Drinker labor and employment partner Susan Kline provides insight to Law360 on what employers should consider before acting on a complaint about an employee’s off-duty social media use without the evidence, explaining that failure to do so can get a business into hot water.
As an example, Kline said that if a company received a report that a worker posted a controversial image, it should jolt a business into action. However, company leaders might get a look at the actual post and realize the person had shared it with commentary that disparaged the image.
"Going on rumors is almost always a bad idea," Kline advised. "Find what you can get by way of evidence."
This can be trickier when the complaint comes in from a hotline, rather than from a worker. But Kline said following up on an anonymous tip is important because when concerns are raised by a third party, it likely means the online post can be easily linked to the company.
"Employers tend to not want to throw a lot of resources at anonymous reports," she said. "But on these, if they have enough evidence of the content provided with the report, they should take it seriously and look to see if something's out there that's a negative reflection on the company."
Kline explained that if something controversial is flagged for a business, whether they get involved will set a precedent for how workers expect future incidents to be handled.
"You have to be prepared to be consistent," she said. "Every time you take a scenario and evaluate it, you have to think three steps ahead in the chess game."