Friday, July 15, 2011

ERM-BC-COOP: Facebooking?
Laws change by location


According to an AdvisenFPN article from Proskauer's International Labor and Employment Practice Group (,

    "While social media law is too new and undeveloped to give a clear picture, the Labor Board's approach appears to give employees broad latitude to disparage their employer on Facebook and similar social media sites.

    Early indications are that foreign tribunals are taking a different approach. In several recent cases, they have affirmed the employers' right to dismiss employees for comments made in social media forums."

The article goes on to cite two cases, one in England, the other British Columbia (Canada).

Proskauer's article ends with the admonishment that

    "The law is too new, and the sample size too small, to draw any definitive conclusions from these cases. Where possible, expectations of privacy should be defined, particularly with respect to conduct occurring during work time and comments that are widely disseminated. The use of social media sites to disparage the employer's customers, products and services should be addressed, as well as conduct that would be prohibited in the workplace, such as insubordination. As with any multinational HR policy, local rules (both substantive and procedural) should be considered."

Social media must make risk management practitioners aware of several critical needs:

  1. The need to involve HR and Legal in the risk management process. (All functional units should be involved, but especially HR and Legal.)

  2. Policies and procedures need to be carefully crafted and published and there must be evidence that personnel - at all ranks - have read and comprehended the policies.

  3. Policies and procedures must cover all of an organization's locations.

  4. Policies and procedures must consider visiting employees, for example, an employee from France visiting the organization's facility in Finland. See

  5. Someone within the organization needs to monitor the Internet for any comments, good and bad, relating to the organization. Likewise, someone needs the authority to quickly respond to Internet postings, particularly negative postings to prevent damage to the organization's reputation.

Proskauer is located on the Web at

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