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Wednesday
Nov042009

Choose Your “Friends” Wisely…


We all have received them, emails wanting to be your “friend” on a social networking site. Someone you know, someone you barely know, someone you have never heard of … Rarely is a long lost friend renewing contact after many years.

What do you do when the friend request comes from an employee that works for you? What should you do?

The problem with online social networking medias such as Facebook is the personal information people choose to share. It is absolutely amazing. Extremely personal information can be disclosed in profiles, comments, photos and up-to-the-minute reports on what someone is doing and how they are feeling.

How does an employer defend against discrimination claims when a boss is a “friend” of an employee that chose to reveal personal information?

You know you cannot discriminate on the basis of religious affiliation, age, ethnicity, political affiliation, health problems and other protected classes. Much of proactive employment law strategy is taking steps to avoid receiving this kind of information. Now, simply by accepting an invitation to “become a friend,” you can be accused of making employment decisions based upon this information, whether or not this information was even reviewed online.

The simple answer is that managers and supervisors should not become “friends” online with employees. Similarly, managers and supervisors should not invite employees they supervise to become their “friends” online.

This is just one of many social networking and Internet issues affecting the workplace. Our 2010 employee handbook revisions will include a number of proactive, take charge policies in this area.

In the meantime, tell your managers and your supervisors not to invite employees to be friends online and not to accept their invitations to do the same.

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Reader Comments (2)

I have recently made contact with several friends on Facebook I have not seen for over 35 years. Getting in touch with old school mates is actually quite common from my experience. It is a good idea to keep work and personal contacts on social networks separated. It's also a good idea to be careful what you say or post. You never know who might be viewing your personal information.
November 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFred May
Also be aware of posting your travel plans, recent purchases, as employee's can access this information causing a jealous recentful employee or opening the door to scammers or thieves.
November 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterScott Mc Alexander

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