Employees are entitled to some privacy in the workplace, but what are employers allowed to monitor especially when it comes to protecting the integrity of their business? Is it legal for employers to monitor phone conversations or emails to find out if employees are abusing these privileges? Add to these questions the world of social media and it can complicate the rights of employers and their employees.

Can a potential employer scan social media profiles?

It is not illegal to check out another person’s social media page, but the question arises when an employer asks a potential employee for the password to their social media account. While there is not a federal law that prohibits this practice, the Department of Justice does consider it to be a crime since it violates the terms outlined by social media sites like Facebook. Some states are attempting to make this an illegal practice. Employers must also guard against checking on individual’s social sites and activities to determine their religions, political or sexual views. If an employer uses such information to discriminate against an employee they may be in violation of the Equal Employment Opportunity rules as well as privacy laws.

Can an employer monitor social media activities in the workplace?

There are presently no laws which govern an employer’s monitoring of employee’s social media activities on the company’s computer. Employers are typically looking for things like security breaches and unauthorized posting of company content. However, the US National Labor Relations Act does discuss the rights of employees when it comes to using social media and how businesses address these issues in terms of having a social media policy. Some employers have lost court cases when they fired employees for complaining about the company or workplace conditions on their social media sites. Employees should be provided with a very clear social media policy prior to being hired.