As a business, the actions that your employees take on and off the clock can reflect on you. Many businesses have experienced serious reputational and financial consequences from things that one or two employees did in their free time or posted on social media. As a result, businesses of every size have adopted a social media policy for employees. Do you know if your social media policy for employees is legal?
Maryland Was a Pioneer in Social Media Policy Law
Maryland became the first state to prevent employers from asking employees or applicants for login information to their personal electronic accounts including personal email and social media accounts in 2012. Under this law, you cannot request or require an employee to disclose their username or password, discharge or penalize an employee or threaten to do so for not allowing access or refuse to hire someone as a result of their unwillingness to give login information.
However, this law also allows critical ways for employers to still investigate potential wrongdoing and says that employers can investigate employees based on information regarding:
- An employee using a website or social media account for business purposes, if the investigation is ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements or securities and financial law
- An employee downloading proprietary information from your business to a website or online account
You’ll also notice that this law does not protect against what employees choose to say or do on social media.
Your Social Media Policy for Employees
The first amendment does not necessarily apply when it comes to termination or disciplinary action as a result of social media activity. It does protect the right of your employees to speak freely, but it guards against government action, not private employer action. If your employees are employed on an at will basis, that means that you have the right to fire them for any reason as long as you do not violate laws regarding discrimination of protected classes. Providing that your social media policy for employees does not discriminate against a protected class or request login information for private social media accounts, you should be perfectly fine. As always, Mobley and Brown, LLP can review your policy to ensure straightforward legal language.
Contact Mobley & Brown, LLP to Review Your Social Media Policy for Employees
If you are unsure whether or not your social media policy for employees is legal, contact Mobley and Brown, LLP today. Our experienced legal team will work with you to meet your needs. Call us now at (410) 385-0398.