Effective Nov 1, Social Media in OK: 4 Things Employers Cannot Do and 5 Things Employers Can Do

(A Shout Out and Thanks to Matt Tipton of Vanguard Results for sharing this information with us!)

Effective Nov. 1st, 2014, Oklahoma House bill 2372 becomes law. It is a basic outline for what business owners “employers” can and cannot do in regards to social media. Here is your summary:

 

4 Things Employers Cannot Do:

 

1)      Cannot require an employee or prospective employee to disclose user name or password for personal online social media account.

2)      Cannot require an employee or prospective employee to access personal online social media account in order to observe the contents of an account not publicly available (unless you meet and investigatory exception)

  1. I will explain the “investigatory exception” down below in the “what you can do” section

3)      Cannot retaliate against an employee for refusing to give you his/her user name or password to a personal online social media account.

4)      Cannot refuse to hire a prospective employee for refusing to give you his/her user name or password to a personal online social media account.

 

There probably isn’t a lot in the “cannot” section that anyone is currently making a habit of doing, but now that the state is making issue of it we have to become not only aware of ourselves but educate our managers as well and those in decision making roles around us.

 

Now, 5 things employers can do:

 

1)      Can request or require an employee to disclose user name and password for accessing any computer system, network, or devise provided or subsidized by the employer.

  1. In other words, if you (owner of the business) own the equipment, you have a right to what’s on it at any time.

2)      Can request or require an employee to disclose user name and password for accessing any accounts or services provided by the employer or by virtue of the employment relationship or that is used for business purposes.

3)      Can inadvertently acquire an employee’s user name and password through a monitoring devise or program so long as you don’t use it.

  1. Example, many of us run software in the background that is recording everything including an employee who decides to access their facebook on company time on a company computer. You can’t get in trouble for your software picking up that info, however you can’t use that info to access that facebook account.

4)      Can conduct investigations into an employee’s online activity and that may include asking an employee to cooperate by sharing the content of their personal online social media account in order to make factual determinations.

  1. An investigation doesn’t mean you’re curious about what’s on someone’s account and therefore you exercise this part of the law to figure it out. The “investigation” is referencing for example social media harassment from employee to employee, or even worse manager to employee. An actual complaint is filed and therefore access to that account is necessary to discovering facts pertinent to the complaint. Along with anything listed here, but especially this point, if you have something like this come up please contact me and we can walk through it together on how to handle.

5)      Can review personal online social media accounts accessed by employees from the employer’s computer system, network, or devise.

  1. Be careful with this point. Yes, if it’s on your network you can have access to it, but it doesn’t mean (go back and read point 3) you can comb through and find the passwords to access those accounts, then use those passwords. This is simply an employee goes home or goes to lunch for the day and leave their social media on their screen for everyone to see…employers computer, employers property, but be smart.

 

Now for the fun part, what are the penalties for employers? They include:

 

–          Civil Action

–          Within 6mths of incident

–          Injunctive relief

–          Clear and convincing evidence

–          $500 per violation (It’s unclear what determines one vs. multiple violations, I expect as the law becomes more defined by lawsuits being filed that this amount will go up significantly)

–          No punitive or emotional distress

 

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask and I am happy to do any on-site training/lunch and learns with anyone’s management staff. This would also be a good time to begin thinking about adding a social media policy to your handbook that outlines for example what happens when someone is caught on social media rather than working. We all know it happens but it doesn’t hurt to begin putting something in place if you wish to have parameters to protect yourself for when you want to do something about it. Let me know and I’ll be happy to help.

 

Everyone have a great weekend and I look forward to connecting with you again soon!

 

Matt Tipton

Vanguard Results, LLC

405.627.6326

matt@vanguardresults.com

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