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Experts: Businesses should have a social media policy

As more and more people have started using social media, the issue of how employers should address sensitive posts has come up more frequently. Companies in Florida and across the country may find themselves involved in business litigation if an employee posts a hateful message. Experts suggest putting together standards to determine how obscene or inappropriate posts will be handled.

A business runs the risk of an anti-discrimination lawsuit for poorly handling social media comments that are offensive. For example, there are state and federal laws that would allow for a claim to be brought under the premise of allowing for a hostile work environment if the responsible party is not fired. On the other hand, firing an employee over a post could result in a wrongful termination lawsuit. Experts agree that having a written social media policy in place can provide guidance for employees and legal protection for employers.

Taking swift action when something does happen may be in a company's best interest. For example, in a case involving a travel agency in Arkansas, a staff member posted homophobic comments on the business' Facebook page. The owner of the business instructed the employee to remove the comments. Despite the staffer moving the comments to her own personal page and engaging in arguments there, the business still lost customers. As a result, the employee was fired and the agency revamped its social media policy.

It is important for both workers and employers to have a firm understanding of the business' social media policy. Anyone with questions regarding this matter should consult with an attorney.

Source: Sheboygan Press, "Creating policy for employee posts a good idea," Joyce M. Rosenberg, March 7, 2015

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