The area of employment law in relation to social media is still very new. However, you can be certain that legal precedents will be set in 2011 with many important cases coming up.
In Connecticut, a judge will hear a case involving a woman who made comments about her manager on her Facebook profile. The interesting fact about the case is that she was using Facebook on her own personal time. The National Labor Relations Board is brining suit against her employer for the action they took.
Her employer, a CT ambulance company, apparently cites regular work performance issues as the reason for the termination.
At stake is the expectation of privacy for employees and the right to criticize one’s employer. This case appears to have other mitigating factors involved besides Facebook, so it is very possible that no interesting precedent will be set. However, it is very clear that the area of employment law and social media is ambiguous and gray.
Employers should begin to craft very clear social media policies. These policies need to be communicated as early on as in the recruitment process of new employees. Far from being abstract “employee handbook” type issues, these sorts of social media policies need to be understood clearly and early on.