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A Lunch & Learn: Legal Ramifications of the Internet

by Meghann on December 15, 2010

Do you know what to expect the day after a office holiday party?

Leftovers – of course! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Lots and lots of left overs.

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Brownies and cookies at 9:00am? Sure! Why not? Everyone else is doing it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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I’ve dubbed those Peanut Butter/Rice Krispie/ Chocolate Brownies CRACK they’re so good! You can find the recipe here, but I wouldn’t make a pan without expecting to eating a dozen brownies on your own. ๐Ÿ™‚

This afternoon I had the opportunity to attend a lunch and learn with a few colleagues entitled Legal Ramifications of the Internet: What Every HR Professional Needs to Know.

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Lunch was catered by TooJays.

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I filled my plate with a little salad, fruit, potato salad, and a turkey wrap with spicy mustard.

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The lunch and learn was very informative and I took a lot away to digest and think about.

Basically social media as we know it scares the crap out of companies just as much as it scares their employees. Anything said via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc by an employee can come back in legal action against a company which is why companies need to start taking action by implementing social media policies and monitoring employees’ social media usage.

I don’t nesscarily agree with companies completely monitoring employees’ social media efforts (some of the examples she gave I did not agree with) but it does make sense in cases of HIPAA, confidentiality, and insider trading.

I try not to say, tweet, or Facebook anything negative about my company or go into too much detail on what I do – which makes complete sense if I want to keep my job – but it never occurred to me that asking friends via Facebook or twitter to keep a co-worker in their prayers because she’s sick would be a violation of HIPAA.

There are still several cases making their way of the legal system food chain, so there aren’t many supreme court decisions on cases involving social media in the workplace, but we know they’re coming.

Truly fascinating stuff.

1 Kelly December 15, 2010 at 4:26 pm

Hm interesting, I would never think about that either!
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2 Sarah for Real December 15, 2010 at 4:29 pm

That’s crazy! So the video suggested companies need to keep tabs on their employee’s personal facebook and twitterings? I totally don’t get that. Of course it makes sense if they’re talking about work in a blabby way, but I figure that is just unprofessional. I never thought it could get a company sued!

3 Beth @ Beth's Journey to Thin December 15, 2010 at 4:31 pm

Wow that’s crazy to think about! I try to be pretty private about what I do on the internet too but you only need to make the mistake once!
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4 sweeter salt December 15, 2010 at 4:32 pm

I work in marketing, and work every day to keep up with new moves in the social media world. It can be really intimidating to me, but especially to my older coworkers and colleagues. I try not to get too caught up in “horror stories”, but it is important to stay knowledgeable.

Laura
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5 Kacy December 15, 2010 at 4:34 pm

That is really interesting! I am very curious to see how social media affects our laws in the future.
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6 Katy (The Singing Runner) December 15, 2010 at 4:39 pm

Hmmmm that’s very interesting! I would be interested in learning more!
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7 Christin@purplebirdblog December 15, 2010 at 4:40 pm

HIPAA is quite interesting to learn… I am a medical transcriptionist so I have intimately become aware of the policies and procedures involved. I will need to carry on the same policies as a massage therapist when I graduate next year, which considering I have so many friends who get worked on by me becomes a delicate balance, as a seemingly innocent question of “How is so and so doing?” when they are now a client of mine takes on a whole new meaning!
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8 Lacey @ Lake Life December 18, 2010 at 7:05 pm

I so agree! I’m a medical coder and can’t share anything about work with anybody.
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9 Kate (What Kate is Cooking) December 15, 2010 at 4:45 pm

I could get into brownies at 9 in the morning ๐Ÿ™‚

10 Jaclyn December 15, 2010 at 4:53 pm

Sounds like an interesting topic of a lunch and learn! I work in HR too so I think that sounds pretty relevant to me!

Oh my gosh, you read my mind with the sweets – someone brought in half a leftover chocolate cake this morning from trader joes – chocolate cake at ten am, why not, everyone else is doing it?! ๐Ÿ˜‰

11 Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine December 15, 2010 at 5:04 pm

That’s a really interesting example- I’d never think of that either!! Social media can be really scary- for all the positives that I love about it, unfortunately there’s a lot of negatives too ๐Ÿ™
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12 Laura @ Backstage Pass December 15, 2010 at 5:05 pm

Very interesting, indeed. Social media has really changed ‘the game’, hasn’t it?
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13 Caitlin December 15, 2010 at 5:10 pm

I hate stuff like this. So PC.
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14 Danielle December 15, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Interesting stuff!

15 Erin December 15, 2010 at 5:20 pm

That’s something we talk and think about in my profession quite a bit. We’ve already had some issues at work with people violating FERPA (the law that keeps a lot of college student information confidential). We’ve been talking about a social media policy but, really, it also comes down to employees following all the other policies and laws that are out there. We figure our policy would have to say something like “Follow the other university policies and don’t be stupid.”
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16 Brenna December 15, 2010 at 5:21 pm

I know – the internet scares me. I am always afraid something I post will come back to haunt me (even though everything is 100 percent clean – you never know!)
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17 Matt December 15, 2010 at 5:36 pm

Your post just made me realize that I have probably said some things on my blog and facebook about work that I probably shouldn’t have said. Totally going to limit that from now on!
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18 Michelle (The Runner's Plate) December 15, 2010 at 5:43 pm

Wow! I’ve never thought about some of those things before. It is crazy how social media affects our laws!
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19 Laura (Starloz) December 15, 2010 at 6:39 pm

sounds interesting, like woah
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20 Amalfi Girl (EatRunHaveFun.blogspot) December 15, 2010 at 7:02 pm

Wow, that is very interesting. What do you think about liability for what you post on your blog (even just morally speaking?) I’m new to blogging, so I’m new to thinking about these questions, too!

21 erin December 15, 2010 at 7:32 pm

We have a social media policy at work. I work in the private ambulance industry so we have a lot of patient information. Crew members have gotten fired for posting pics of patients…so not cool. Our social policy goes as far as not allowing us to mention where we work on any social media outlet or talk about other employees. We are not allowed to take pictures at company parties or events of other employees either. Being a social work student we have discussed social networking in our ethics classes as well.
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22 Averie (LoveVeggiesandYoga) December 15, 2010 at 7:40 pm

I have learned the hard way about saying too much on my blog. Not about others, but just about my own life, life stuff, etc.

And once it’s gone up, even though it’s deleted, it’s never gone forever.

I also post tons of pictures (as all bloggers do) but am increasingly careful of what I post, and especially those of my child.

Some say that FB is safer than blogs b/c only your friends see the pics. Or the messages, but really, in this age of a quick copy/paste, any pics or words uttered, are fair game to be used at any time, by anyone. I hate to think that people use things for the wrong reasons…but sigh…they do.

So being cautious is important for me ๐Ÿ™‚
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23 Kjirsten- Balanced Healthy Life December 15, 2010 at 7:45 pm

There are lots of HIPPA rules that can so easily be broken. I always have to watch what I say to my clients to make sure I don’t slip up and say something I shouldn’t be saying.
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24 Ali December 15, 2010 at 8:37 pm

Like you, I can understand how it wouldn’t be okay to tweet or say on facebook anything bad about the company you work for (they do the same thing at my grad program). But I don’t think that companies should be monitoring personal social media accounts! Ahh well, hopefully it doesn’t get to that extreme any time soon.

25 alwayslosingbobbypins December 15, 2010 at 8:42 pm

as a lawyer, and someone who is also an employee, it is imperative that your work place knows about your blog if you want to keep your job. Not only can they protect you, but they can protect themselves (which is why you’d get fired in the first place – even if you didn’t say anything negative). I’m glad you got this info! The issues are multifaceted and changing as fast as social media – which is fast ๐Ÿ™‚

26 Meghann December 15, 2010 at 9:19 pm

I’ve been 100% up front about my blog. In fact my HR manager (who was the one who invited me to the lunch and learn) is a huge fan. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve always believed that honest is the best policy, which is why I believe my blog is so successful.

27 Allie December 15, 2010 at 9:10 pm

Fun stuff! Its always nice to learn something new ๐Ÿ™‚
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28 OAC December 15, 2010 at 9:52 pm

You mean like tweeting about your boss’s colonoscopy?

29 Lish December 15, 2010 at 10:16 pm

The whole social networking vs. company privacy and privilege to that info. is really interesting. It definitely caused some problems at my last job when an employee was out sick for three days, and then someone e-mailed her husband’s blog to all of upper management to show two posts where they had gone shopping at Target and then out to dinner. It was really a tense two weeks there where a lot of social networking sites were blocked due to “subtle, snarky” statements posted by her, her hubby, friends at work who were on her side, etc. In the end, everyone had to agree to friend the head of HR. I know that when Twitter really started to become popular, I had to go back and delete some venting tweets. No one I worked with tweeted at the time, but better safe than sorry.

And you know, I never thought about the whole HIPPA thing, which seems to be a hot topic these days. I mean, I can’t even remember how many e-mails were sent out for prayers, so-and-so had a wreck and a collection was started, and even a few about surgical procedures and which room to visit.

30 Chelsey (Cookteen) December 15, 2010 at 11:12 pm

thanks for linking my recipe!! They really are crack brownies…sooo addictive!
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31 Kiran December 16, 2010 at 12:25 am

There’s a fine line between Internet and the real world. Being cautious is always the best route ๐Ÿ™‚
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32 Lacey @ Lake Life December 18, 2010 at 7:04 pm

Where I work all social networking is prohibited from hospital premises, which means even a simple non work-related FB or blog post could get me fired if done from work.
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33 Ffion December 22, 2010 at 8:00 pm

I try not to mention work on Facebook or on my blog. I don’t particularly like where I work, so anything I said would probably not be complementary. Not that I’d ever say anything nasty or rude, although I do get fed up with customers regularly. I disagree with employees completely regulating colleague social networking usage as well, especially if it is not during work, and if work is never mentioned. I use Facebook a lot to keep in touch with friends across the country, and wold absolutely hate it if I got a job that stated I was not allowed to use Facebook!
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