On September 11, 2012, the Labor & Employment Section of the Pasadena Bar Association was treated to an entertaining and insightful presentation on “Social Media in the Workplace.”  The meeting began on a reflective note, as a moment of silence was dedicated to those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks eleven years earlier.  Evan R. Moses, a shareholder at Ogletree Deakins, presented a PowerPoint examining the impact social media is having on the American workplace.  Evan started by discussing the hiring and recruiting process, and warning employers not to make “inquiries” (by searching social media) that can’t be made during interviews.  He noted that California is likely to become the third state to prohibit employers from requiring the sharing of social media passwords.  Privacy remains an important watchword for employers.  Both applicants and current employees may have reasonable expectations of privacy, even in social media.  Evan warned against basing a termination decision on a Facebook post or a photograph, without conducting a thorough investigation.  He also noted that making a decision could establish a policy that would require everyone to be treated similarly.

Evan identified some tools that employers can use.  A good social media policy that balances employees’ privacy rights with an employer’s legitimate needs to protect its information, its reputation, and its other employees’ right to be free of harassment is recommended in the modern workplace.  Employers should be intentional in setting rules and guidelines when establishing a blog or website and permitting employees to speak on it.  Jack Schaedel, the PBA Labor & Employment Section Chair, moderated the event and summarized portions of Evan’s presentation by observing that many of the insights Evan shared had the common theme that all employment laws governing privacy and anti-discrimination continue to apply, even in new media.  Evan agreed, saying, “at the end of the day, it’s still employment law, people!”

All in attendance were able to ask questions of the speaker and moderator and participated in a vigorous interactive discussion throughout the event, which also provided an hour of MCLE credit.  Noor was the site of the event, and as always, provided wonderful space for the pre-meeting networking and refreshments, as well as a delicious buffet meal.

Save the date for the next meeting, which will be held at 11:30am on Tuesday, October 9.

Contributed by Jack Schaedel.

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